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Police: Utility Scam 'Sweeping Nation'

The scam involves a false federal assistance program.

Pennsylvania State Police have issued a bulletin regarding a utility scam they say is sweeping the nation, according to a Lower Merion Township news release. The scam mentions a false federal assistance program and claims that President Obama is providing funds to help residents pay for utility bills. 

The release continues below:

“Imposters contact power company customers through telephone calls, mail, fliers, email, text messages, social media, and in person,” the bulletin states. “After the victim is contacted, the imposter convinces them to relay personal information by claiming that the victim is eligible to receive cash benefits from a government program. After the victim provides their social security number, credit card number, and bank information, the victim is given a bank account and routing number to use when paying utility bills. The victim is told the account is set up through a federal assistance program that will provide up to $1,000 toward the victim’s utility bills.”

The State Police said that “while there is no direct or immediate financial loss to the victim, the victims are now susceptible to identity theft because they provided their personal information to the imposter. Additionally, their utility payment is now overdue and they could be assessed late fees or penalties for non-payment.”

Thousands of Americans, including those in Pennsylvania, have fallen victim to this scam, the State Police report – most of them elderly.

If you think you have been a victim of this scam, contact your bank immediately. Contact the three national credit bureaus (Equifax at 800-685-1111; Experian at 888-397-3742; and TransUnion at 800-888-4213) and put a fraud alert on your account. Finally, contact the Federal Trade Commission and register an identity theft complaint at 877-438-4338, or www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

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