A nationwide scam with ties to President Obama has many scratching their heads. The phishing scam says President Obama is paying utility bills as part of a bailout plan. With the growing costs of utilities, many people look for ways to ease the expense. Your Better Business Bureau says be skeptical about who you deal with.
The President-Obama-will-pay-your-utility scam was on the Better Business Bureau’s “Top Ten Scams” of 2012. This is how the scam works. You receive phone calls, fliers, social media and text messages with claims President Obama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills. To receive the money, scammers claim they need your Social Security and bank routing numbers. In return, people are given fraudulent bank routing numbers to pay their utility bills through an automated telephone payment service. The payment service initially accepts the payment, but then declines it within a few days when the bank account number is discovered to be a scam.
Your Better Business Bureau offers these tips to avoid becoming a victim:
• Never provide personal information to unfamiliar companies. Keep your social security number, credit card number and bank information away from strangers requesting it.
• Don’t fall for misleading telephone calls. If you receive a call claiming to be your utility company, hang up and call the customer service number on your utility bill. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with your utility company asking for payment, hang up and call the utility’s customer service number. DP&L customers can call (800) 433-8500.
• Never allow someone into your home you don’t know unless you have a scheduled appointment or reported a problem. Ask for proper identification.
• Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics. Don’t feel tempted to give information over the phone or in person.
• Check on elderly relatives and friends, often targets of such schemes, to make sure they haven’t fallen victim to this fraud.
Remember, if you have already provided information to someone making this offer, contact your bank and one of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) immediately.
If you have any questions regarding identity theft scams, you can always get help from your BBB. It even offers a free brochure about the scam. Contact your BBB by visiting www.bbb.org or calling (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.