Huntsville Utilities says customers continue to report scams in the Tennessee Valley. These scams are happening nationwide, as a matter of fact.
The American Public Power Association (APPA) is putting out the word to warn people to be cautious and not fall victim to these scams. Scam reports are popping up in several states, including California, Illinois, Tennessee, Texas and Florida.
The scams aim to steal payments and identity information using in-person solicitations, phone calls, social media, flyers and text messages.
Recently, customers have called Huntsville Utilities to say someone contacted them claiming to represent the utility. The customers were told their utility services would be disconnected by 5 p.m. if they did not supply the caller with their Social Security Number, date of birth and a credit card number to which their bill could be charged.
Spokesperson Bill Yell says Huntsville Utilities DOES NOT call customers requesting this information.
Earlier this year, other local customers reported receiving calls from someone claiming to represent Huntsville Utilities and telling them, because of their good payment history, they were selected to win a new car and cash reward. All they had to do was provide credit card information to pay a delivery fee for the car. Huntsville Utilities has no such reward program.
According to the APPA, the newest scam involves customers being told President Obama has approved special funding through the Federal Reserve Bank for utility bill assistance. There is no such funding.
The caller asks customers for personal information, then providing victims with a fraudulent bank routing number with which to pay their utility bills.
Forty customers fell victim to this scam in Gainesville, Florida, according to a utility provider there. They used the fraudulent routing numbers.
In Memphis, it was far worse. Nearly 1,000 customers did the same thing.
Utility providers across the country are urging customers to remain vigilant. Customers should be suspicious of anyone asking for personal information that their utility provider should already have in their records.
Huntsville Utilities does not contact customers to request this information, nor does Huntsville Utilities request credit card information over the phone.
If you receive a call like this, please gather as much information as possible from the caller and contact the utility immediately at (256) 535-1200 so the scam can be investigated.