Caution: Read Before Clicking

BBB® warns of a new way thieves are trying to get your personal information. Cincinnati consumers are receiving an email saying, “Your mailbox has exceeded the storage limit… you may not be able to send or receive new emails until you re-evaluate your mailbox. To re-evaluate your mailbox please enter your username and password in the column given below.”

Many people have only one set of usernames and passwords so if you send that information to the thieves they could get into your other accounts. Incidentally, the email also asks for your birth date which clearly has nothing to do with your email storage limit and everything to do with possible identity theft.

There is a another email scam alert area consumers should be aware of. Consumers are receiving an invoice from a utility company PG&E that doesn’t even service this area. The email looks just like a utility bill due for payment with a link to view the account or the customer’s messages. The company is aware of the situation and is taking proactive measures to protect customers. There has been no security breach and the information referenced in the email message is not legitimate. If you get one of these PG&E emails just delete it without clicking on any links or attachments.

Unfortunately, this is part of an elaborate utility scam across the country where scammers are working the phones and email to swindle money during this stretch of cold weather. Keep this mind if you receive a call, email or an in person visit from any service related company:

  • A legitimate company will not ask for personal information or a credit card number over the phone when they are first calling for your business.  Anyone who has received such a phone call and provided credit card or checking account information should report it immediately to the credit card company or bank and law enforcement.

  • Customers with concerns about the legitimacy of a call about a past due bill, service request or request for personal information are encouraged to call the company’s customer service department.

  • Customers should always ask to see identification before allowing anyone claiming to be a company representative inside their home. Most service employees are required to carry identification and should be willing to show it to you.

  • If a person claiming to be a service employee has identification and you still feel uncomfortable, call customer service to verify an appointment and/or the service company’s presence in the community.  If you feel threatened in any way, notify local law enforcement immediately.

Bottom line, if it looks suspicious, it probably is. Don’t click on an email you are unsure of – just delete it. Start with someone you can Trust, bbb.org.

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About Howard Ain

Howard Ain has been reporting consumer news on Cincinnati television for the past 38 years. He also writes a newspaper column alerting readers to consumer scams. He now joins BBB|Cincinnati as a correspondent.