Utility-bill scammers target Alabama

Published 3:50 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Several clever criminals are taking advantage of ideal conditions — an unreasonably hot summer and hard times — to create a new scam that is taking the nation by storm.

That storm is hitting close to home.

The scam is convincing customers that President Barack Obama will pay their utility bills as a part of a new federal aid program.

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All the fraudulent program asks for in return is a little personal information, like your bank account number and your social security number.

Pioneer Electric Cooperative spokesperson Angela Green said that these scams have been going on for some time now across the nation, and they are just now reaching our state.

Utility bills are at their highest at this time of year, and Green doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that these scams are spreading right now.

“Right now, people’s bills are shooting up because of high temperatures, and people do need help,” Green said.

However, these scams are not just targeting utility bills.

Pioneer Electric received a call from a resident of Wilcox County with information regarding the scam.

She apparently paid her DirecTV bill with the same routing number and account information that has been associated with the Obama utility scam.

Even scarier is that these criminals are attacking on all fronts.

“This is basically an identity theft scam, and they can reach you by text, social media accounts, and through email,” Green said.

There have even been reports of criminals going door-to-door in some areas around the country, passing out false documents in an effort to persuade unsuspecting individuals to give up their personal information.

Green said that there are several precautionary steps to take to prevent such an occurrence, but the most important defense is common sense.

“Never give your personal information out,” Green said.

“If you are having problems paying your utility bills or anything else, there are agencies out there that will help you.  Go through a reputable source first.”