Utility Scams Can Catch Customers Off Guard
Algoma Utilities is alerting customers to beware of a fraudulent scheme claiming to offer help with utility bill payments.
The identity theft scam—sometimes pitched as a ‘bailout’ authorized by President Barack Obama's administration—has been reported by utility companies and their customers in states around the nation. The fraudulent offer, which is known to be distributed by methods including email, social media, phone calls or door-to-door visits, promises that a federal government program is available to help pay utility customers’ bills. In some cases, the scammers claim to represent a local utility.
Victims of the fake offer are asked to provide a social security number, credit card or banking information to enroll in the non-existent program, after which they are provided fraudulent bank account and routing numbers to use when paying their bills.
When the fraudulent payments are discovered and removed, the customer is left with an unpaid bill and the risk of late charges and potential service disruptions. In the meantime, the scammers have gained personal information about the victim that could be used for the purposes of identity theft.
Algoma Utilities is not aware of any such fraudulent activity in the community at this time, but is proactively warning customers to beware of any such offers.
Algoma Utilities encourages customers to never provide personal information that the utility company should already have. Customers with doubts about any caller, on-line contact or visitor claiming to represent Algoma Utilities should call the utility at 920-487-5556 for verification before providing personal information.