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Scammers Target Customers' Utility Accounts

1:57 PM, Jan 14, 2013   |    comments
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HERNDON, Va., (WUSA) Dominion Virginia Power has issued a warning to customers about scammers who are targeting them to steal money.

The thieves call customers and claim to be employees of Dominion Virginia Power.   They tell the customer that their service will be cut off unless their bill is paid within a certain time. 

The crooks then instruct the customer to use a pre-paid debit card, such as a "Green Dot Card" to make the payment.  

Another scam the thieves are using is to tell the customer that they have a defective meter and if it is not immediately replaced, they could have an electrical fire.   The scammers offer that Dominion Virginia Power will reimburse the cost at a later date if the payment is made now. 

Dominion says that it may call customers who may have overdue bills to remind them that payment is due.  But, in a press release, spokesperson La-Ha Anderson says the company will neve ask for specific payment information, and that it will only direct customers on how to make a payment. 

Dominion Virginia Power encourages anyone who may be contacted about making a payment or suspect that they have been contacted by scammers to phone 1-866-DOM-HELP (366-4357) and local law enforcement. 

And if a person, claiming to represent the company, comes to your home seeking payment or your personal information,  ask them to show you an official Dominion ID. 

The Better Business Bureau also offers these safety measures to avoid scams.

Do your research.  If you receive a call claiming to be from your utility company, hang up and call customer service number on your bill. 

Never provide your Social Security number, credit card, banking or other personal information over the phone. 

Use your own personal information to pay your own utility bill

Avoid door-to-door sales. Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances if you have not reported a problem or scheduled an appointment.  

Always ask the individual for proper company identification

Be proactive.  If you do get caught up in a scam, contact your bank immediately, the three national credit bureaus, EquifaxExperian and TransUnion to protect your account(s) and your credit rating.

Pay it forward so others will not fall victim by sharing this information with family and friends.   The elderly are common victims of these types of scams, but anyone is a potential target.

(Information provided by Dominion Virginia Power)

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