A new billing scam is spreading across the United States, and has even jumped to Anchorage Municipal Light and Power consumers. The criminals are persuading victims that a special federal government assistance program – sometimes described as a bailout authorized by President Barack Obama’s administration – is available to pay their utility bills up to $1,000. Victims are asked to provide their personal information such as bank routing number or social security number in order to receive a free pre-paid Visa gift card or rebate code. Tactics to steal identity information have included in-person solicitation, social media, fliers, phone calls, and text messages.
There is no such utility payment assistance program. However electricity users have been falling for variations on the ruse from coast to coast, making it one of the more successful scams in recent times. Though many people would never think of providing personal information to strangers on the phone, the scammer’s pitch may be more persuasive than you would imagine, especially if they already know the name of your electric company. Victims’ stories vary, but the goal of the scam is to extract enough personal information from you to initiate identity theft.
If you are ever suspicious of someone who calls you requesting personal information that KEA should already have, and claims to represent us, hang up on the caller and call Member Services at 486-7701. Remember: if something appears too good to be true, it probably is! Never give out your social security number or bank account information to someone who calls you without verifying the call.