Police Warn of Utility Bill
The Alexandria Police Department is
warning residents about a scam involving phone calls from a person claiming to
be a utility company employee, demanding immediate payment of utility bills.
The caller claims electric service will be cut off unless the bill is paid
within a matter of hours, usually by using a pre-paid debit card such as a
"Green Dot card" or “Moneypak”. The Police Department has taken at
least eight reports of this fraud in recent months. At this point the suspects
are identifying themselves as Dominion Power employees, but may change their
Companies may phone customers whose
bills are in arrears to remind them payment is due, but they NEVER ask for
specific payment information, only directing customers how to make a payment.
Alexandria Police Department encourages anyone who is improperly contacted
about making a payment over the phone to call the
non-emergency number, 703.746.4444, and report the crime. In addition,
residents should always ask to see an official ID from anyone who comes to
their residence and claims to be from the company.
The Better Business Bureau provides these tips to avoid falling
for a scam:
- Do your research. If you receive a
call claiming to be from your utility company and feel pressured for immediate
payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer
service number on your utility bill.
- Beware of giving personal information over the phone. Never provide
your Social Security number, credit card number or banking information to
anyone requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you initiated the
contact and feel confident about the person with whom you are speaking.
- Use your own personal information. Always pay your
bills with your own personal information; never pay your bills with information
that is not your own.
- Beware of the door-to-door sales approach. Never allow
anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or
appliances unless you have scheduled an appointment or have reported a utility
problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification.
- Be proactive. If you have
already provided information to someone claiming to offer this service, contact
your bank immediately. Also contact the three national credit bureaus –
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and have a notation made on your account so
it doesn't impact your credit rating.
- Inform others. Share this
information with friends and family so they do not become victims. Elderly
victims are common in this type of scam, but anyone who pays a utility bill is
a potential target.