DAYTON, Ohio — Fears of spiking electric bills from the summer heat wave are emboldening scamsters in a nationwide identity theft scheme, officials warned on Thursday.
Dayton Power & Light said it has received calls from customers who have been contacted by people claiming President Obama is paying utility bills as part of a bailout plan. Targets of the scam are asked to register for the program and to provide personal and financial information.
The program doesn’t exist. “The scammers are simply fishing for personal information as part of the identity theft fraud. Unfortunately, many victims received forwarded emails or text messages from friends and family,” said DP&L spokeswoman Lesley Sprigg.
“The scam uses email, Twitter, phone calls and even door-to-door visits. Sometimes, utility customers are asked to provide the number on the back of their Social Security cards. It is a way to get Social Security numbers, bank account or routing numbers to use in identity theft.”
DP&L said scammers assure targets that their utility bills will be paid if the information is provided and in some cases they provide a confirmation number.
But victims soon learn that the bill was not paid. And now the identity theft scammers have personal and financial information to deduct funds from victims’ accounts, it added.
DP&L offered these tips:
• Never give anyone personal information such as Social Security number (or numbers from the back of your Social Security card), bank account number or credit card number unless you initiated the conversation and you are confident the transaction is legitimate.
• If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with your utility company asking for payment, hang up and call the utility’s customer service number.
• If you have already provided information to someone making this offer, contact your bank and the three national credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — immediately.
• If someone pressures you to provide personal or financial information, hang up immediately. Notify your local police department.
• Check on elderly relatives and friends, often targets of such schemes, to make sure they have not fallen victim to this fraud.