Biden Alerts Consumers to Rapidly Spreading Identity Theft Scam
Victims deceived by claims that President Obama will pay their utility bills
Wilmington – After his office received nearly twenty complaints in the past day, Attorney General Beau Biden issued a warning to consumers today about an identity theft scam claiming President Barack Obama will pay citizens’ utility bills. Delaware residents have been contacted via email, Facebook, text message, phone and door-to-door sales. Door to door solicitors sometimes wear what appear to be utility company uniforms.
“Scammers have no problem exploiting the fact that families are worried about paying their bills, but consumers can protect themselves with the right knowledge,” said Biden. “I urge all Delawareans who are approached to ask questions, verify information, and always remember that offers which seem too good to be true usually are.”
The scammers claim that the federal government will pay a month of the victim’s energy costs through credits offered by the Obama administration, and instruct victims to provide their Social Security numbers and other personal information to “register” for the payment. They are then given false bank accounts and routing numbers to use when paying their bill. When victims provide this false routing and bank account numbers to their utility companies, they receive an initial account credit and payment confirmation. Then, victims often share their success stories with family and friends, who also fall for the scam. The payments are ultimately returned by the utility company, frequently resulting in late fees and service interruptions.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit offers the following tips to avoid becoming a victim:
- Do not release your Social Security number, credit card number or banking information over the phone.
- If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from your utility company hang up and contact the customer service number on your bill.
- Resist any pressure to “act now.”
Delawareans who have been victims of this scam should:
- Place fraud alerts on your credit reports, and review your credit reports. Contact information for each credit bureau is below:
? TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
? Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
? Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
- Close accounts that have been opened fraudulently and contact the Fraud Divisions of each of your creditors and banks.
- File a report with your local police where the identity theft took place.
Consumers who need further information can contact the Consumer Protection Unit of the Delaware Department of Justice at 800-220-5424.
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