Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative –
July 23, 2012
Mortified my grandmother would be if she knew I were writing this: Two years ago, she fell victim to a phone scam. Someone called the home of my independent and well-meaning grandmother, pretending to be my cousin. He conned and convinced her to wire “him” more money than a I make in a month. Of course, once the money is gone, it can never be retrieved.
I share that story only because I know how easy it is to fall victim to these scams and I don’t want it happening again, especially to our members. I’m sure grandma feels the same way. Please read the article below and if you remember nothing else, please note: IF SOMEONE CALLS YOU, DON’T EVER GIVE THEM PERSONAL INFORMATION and WIRING MONEY = RED FLAG.
Power-bill scam reported in North Dakota
The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning businesses and consumers about a scam claiming the president will pay their utility bills through a new federal program. Both Minnesotans and North Dakotans have reported instances of this scam. However, none have been reported in Dakota Valley Electric’s service area.
General Manager Jay Jacobson said he encourages member-owners to be wary when someone issues a call asking for information.
“Our employees do not take bank account information over the phone. If a customer wants to set up an automated pay account, they will need to file that information with us on a written form. Any subsequent changes to the account will need to be again re-submitted in writing. We would never call our customers to request that information,” Jacobson said.
How the scam works:
Consumers have been contacted through telephone calls, flyers, social media and text messages with claims that President Barack Obama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills. To receive the money, scammers claim they need the consumer’s Social Security and bank routing numbers.
In return, customers are given a fraudulent bank routing number to pay their utility bills through the automated telephone payment service. The payment service initially ‘accepts’ the payment but then declines it within a few days when the bank discovers the account number is fake.
To avoid becoming a victim of this scam:
* Investigate any offer that sounds too good to be true by contacting the BBB at 800-646-6222 or bbb.org.
* Do not provide your Social Security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone who calls you, regardless of whom they claim to be representing.
* If you receive a call claiming to be 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. For Dakota Valley, that number is 1-800-342-4671.
* Always think safety first. Remember, once your personal information is out there, you don’t know who will be using it or how it will be used.
People who have provided sensitive personal information in situations like this should be aware of the heightened risks of identity theft and take steps to protect themselves by visiting www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft.
For more consumer tips, visit www.bbb.org/us/Consumer-Tips.