Posts Tagged Dominion Virginia Power
This scam is being played out across the country using the names of various utility companies.
June 18th, 2013, 2:56 pm
Attorney general warns about power-bill scam
BY CATHY JETT / THE FREE LANCE–STAR Fredericksburg.com
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is warning Virginians to be wary of scam phone calls about their electricity bills.
Dominion Virginia Power and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative began receiving calls last November from customers who said someone claiming to be from their utility was threatening to shut off their electric service unless a delinquent bill was paid within a matter of hours.
“It’s a terrible thing to do to people who are in financial straits right now,” said Dominion Virginia Power spokesman Karl Neddenien.
The scammers, who also are targeting Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative customers, encourage potential victims to go to Walmart or another retailer to purchase a Green Dot Visa card or other prepaid debit card so funds can be loaded onto it and a payment can be made over the phone, according to a news release from Cuccinelli’s office.
The scammers appear to be specifically targeting Spanish-speaking customers, the elderly and businesses in Virginia. Sometimes they are able to gain an additional aura of legitimacy by “spoofing” the utility’s phone number so the customers’ Caller ID makes it appear they are receiving a phone call from their utility.
REC sent a notice to customers about the scam in January, said co-op spokeswoman Ann Lewis.
“We don’t have a full accounting of how many people may have been approached, but are urging customers to check with us before responding to any kind of call,” she said.
Lewis said at least six customers have notified REC that they were contacted by the scammers.
While a utility may contact customers by phone if they are delinquent on a bill, the utility will never direct them to make a payment in a specific form such as a Green Dot Card.
Instead, utilities will only tell customers how they can make a payment, such as by coming to the corporate office and providing a check, money order or cash, mailing a check with their most recent bill or contacting the corporate office and paying by credit or debit card.
Utilities also don’t typically call customers on the phone to alert them to the potential termination of service; that is done through a mailed notice.
Consumers with questions about this scam can call the state’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 800/552-9963, Dominion power at 866/366-4357 or Rappahannock Electric Cooperative at 800/552-3904.
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407
DON’T GET SCAMMED
Here are some tips from the State Attorney General’s office on how to prevent scammers from stealing your money:
- Always attempt to verify the identity of any individual calling you who claims to represent a business. Do not provide money or personal information to an unsolicited caller whose identity you are not able to verify.
- Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won’t pressure you.
- If you receive a call along the lines described, do not make a payment by purchasing a Green Dot card or other means. Immediately contact your utility’s local office to report the call and to verify your account status.
- If you received a call along the lines described and you made a payment to the scammer, report that information to a local law enforcement agency. You may also report this information to state or federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission.