Imposters claim President Obama providing credits or applying payments to utility bills
Avista and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Montana are warning customers to be alert to a scam that has impacted utility customers in several states across the country. According to reports, imposters are claiming that President Obama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills in an attempt to obtain social security numbers and bank routing numbers.
Utilities impacted by the scam also report that scammers have visited customers in person, posted fliers and used social media and texting to send this false message.
“We all should be vigilant in protecting our personal information at all times. That’s why customers are reminded that Avista does not contact customers seeking personal information, and it is our policy to safeguard any information that we collect during the course of providing electric and natural gas services,” said Mike Broemeling, Avista’s director of customer service.
“You have the power and the right to safeguard your personal information and your home. Customers should trust their instincts and feel empowered to hang up the phone or request a stranger to leave their property if approached about scams like this,” said Chelsea Dannen, public relations and media specialist for BBB.
Avista and the Better Business Bureau offer the following tips to avoid falling for this scam and others:
• Never provide your social security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you initiated the contact and feel confident with whom you are speaking.
• If you receive a call claiming to be your utility company and feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill.
• Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless you have scheduled an appointment or have reported a utility problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification.
• Always think safety first. Do not give in to high pressure tactics over the phone for information or in person to get into your home.