SCAMMERS TARGET UTILITY CUSTOMERS WITH THREATS OF POWER SHUT OFF
These fraudsters hit Murfreesboro businesses late 2013 and are now targeting Nashville business owners with a focus on restaurants and retail stores.
All it takes is a phone call and a convincing lie claiming to be from your local power/utility company. These phone bandits claim they are calling to let you know your utility account is delinquent and electric service will be shut-off within hours unless you pay right away.
To add credibility to this scam, they often use ‘spoofing’ technology’ that makes your caller ID display the name and phone number of the local utility company.
“It’s a despicable con that scares hard working business people into paying up to avoid customer inconvenience and the loss of sales”, says Kathleen Calligan, CEO, BBB Middle Tennessee.
The scammer, pretending to be with Nashville Electric, told one local restaurant manager to rush out and purchase a $1,200 Green Dot Money card. He did. When the scammer called back the restaurant manager was instructed to scratch off the numbers on the back of the card and read them off.
An important feature of the Green Dot Money Pak is that once the purchaser gives out the scratch off number on the back, a scammer can remotely access the cash and place it onto another gift card and the money is instantly gone. All done anonymously. No going to a bank, or to Western Union and showing identification. Once they have the numbers, they have the money and they are gone.
This international based scam spread nationwide in 2013 and continues to target both homeowners and businesses by phone and email. Be alert to the warning signs and understand how your utility company operates.
Utility companies will never call you and threaten immediate service disconnection. A lengthy process takes place; typically involving multiple written notices to the customer advising the account is delinquent.
If you are concerned about your account, call the utility company using a telephone number on an old bill or look it up. Don’t use the number that’s on your caller ID.
Fall for this scam and you will never see your money again. Slow down, think it through and don’t let a scammer pressure you into handing over your hard earned money.
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