A lot of people, especially in areas hit hard by the recession, haven’t exactly been paying their utility bills in a prompt manner, knowing that it takes a long time for someone to eventually getting around to shutting off the power or gas service. Thus, scammers are trying to take advantage of these delinquencies by calling and pretending to be from the power company.
PECO Energy in Pennsylvania has received numerous complaints from customers who received phone calls from people claiming to be PECO employees. The callers would tell them that they were hundreds of dollars behind on their bills and at risk for having their service cut off.
The scammer would then tell the customer that the fastest way to avoid having their service turned off would be to go to Walgreens or CVS and buy a prepaid Green Dot Visa debit card, because that would be the same as cash. Once they had the card, they were to call the scammer back and provide them with the info on the debit card.
The debit card requirement should have been a huge sign that they were being taken in, but PECO knows of at least five people who have fallen for the ruse. Additionally, the call-back number to provide the card info had a 718 area code, which is for parts of New York City, far outside the range of PECO.
Thus, here are some tips to avoid this type of scam.
-Never give any credit card or bank account info to anyone who calls you directly. Hang up and call the utility company back on the number listed on their website or on your bill.
-Ask anyone who contacts you in this manner to provide you with information to confirm they actually know who they’re calling. They should be able to tell you your full account number, the amount and date of your last payment and the exact amount due.
-Always get a call-back number, especially if you believe it to be a scam. This could be of use to authorities if they choose to investigate the scam.
Peco customers target of scammers [Philly.com]