July 16, 2012 - Better Business Bureau officials are warning consumers to beware of a scam in which they are promised that President Obama will pay their utility bills through a new federal program.
"We've been watching this scam closely as it emerged sporadically around the country," said Blair Looney, CEO of Central California BBB. "Recent reports we've received indicate that it's now here, and people need to be aware of the risks."
Here's how the scam works: Consumers are contacted through telephone calls, fliers, social media and text messages, with claims that the federal government is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills.
Scammers claim that they need the consumer's Social Security and bank routing numbers to receive the money.
In return, customers are given a fraudulent bank routing number 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 fake.
The Better Business Bureau reminds consumers never to provide a Social Security number, credit card information or banking information to anyone who calls, regardless of whom they claim to represent.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to represent your utility company, and the caller is pressuring you for immediate payment or personal information, hang up and call the customer service number on your bill.
Start with Trust. For more information on how to avoid scams and trustworthy consumer tips and information, visit www.cencal.bbb.org or call us, 800-675-8118.