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Wednesday, 06 September 2017 23:29

New "Utility Scam" Dangles Phony Government Assitance to Unsuspecting Residents

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North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. Photo courtesy of journalnow.com.

RALEIGH -- From North Carolina's Attorney General Josh Stein, N.C. constituents, and those included in Richmond County, should be aware of a new scam that affecting people all across the state.

Recently, it has been reported that statewide residents have been receiving calls from parties claiming to be members of utility companies. In the phone calls, what Stein calls "scammers," sometimes threaten to cut off a person's gas or electricity unless he or she immediately pays overdue bills they claim you owe.

But a new utility scam is taking a different approach. Now the scammers are trying to trick people on the phone into providing personal and confidential information. The scammers are publicizing their scheme widely, using high tech means such as videos, texts, emails and websites, along with old-fashioned methods including flyers and phone calls.

In this current scam, those on the other end of the line try to convince unsuspecting individuals that a "government program" will help pay the claimed outstanding bills. Scammers say signing up for the program is simple; the only information that needs to be provided to obtain government assistance is a valid Social Security number and bank account routing number. During the scam, residents are told that their bills will be paid through an automated telephone system.

Though this setup may seem plausible, the scammer’s end goal is to make unaware constituents a victim of identity theft by harvesting private information.

Piedmont Natural Gas says, "dozens of customers in the southeast  area of the state have been contacted about the phony government program."

Attorney General Stein, who took office in January of this year, is encouraging North Carolina's residents to not let these scammers, or any others, trick them into handing over private and confidential information.

If you think you’ve been victimized by this, or any other relatable scam, you are asked to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.

The Richmond Observer would like to thank Detective Shawn Paxton of the Rockingham Police Department for his notification of this scam.

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 September 2017 23:51
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