SANATOGA PA – Bad guys are targeting primarily elderly people under a hoax in which they are asked to share personal identity and financial information in return for federal government assistance to pay their utility bills. No such program exists, Lower Pottsgrove Police Chief Michael Foltz warned Thursday (Aug. 9, 2012), and suggested local residents who receive such an offer should not accept it.
Foltz referred to a community awareness bulletin in which the Pennsylvania State Police describe the scam. Power company customers are being told “President Obama is providing” up to $1,000 to pay their utility bills. Victims are asked to supply social security, credit card and bank information to qualify, and then told to send their utility payments to another location.
- The complete bulletin is available for download from The Post’s Resources Page, here.
Those being duped become susceptible to identify theft, and also may incur utilities’ late payment fines and fees because their bills never get paid, troopers reported.
Foltz did not mention to what extent, if any, township residents have been affected by this con. However, he asked a variety of community groups, landlords, apartment owners and others to ensure the bulletin was prominently posted where the public could read it.
Elsewhere across Pennsylvania and the country, state police noted, “thousands of people … have become victims.” Troopers offered these recommendations:
- Never reveal personal or sensitive information to anyone unless you contacted them and are confident of their legitimacy;
- Never allow anyone into your home without examining official identification; and
- Never open your door to a utility company representative unless you have a scheduled appointment.
Those who think they have become scam victims should immediately notify their banks; have national credit bureaus put a fraud alert on their accounts; and call the Federal Trade Commission at 877-483-4338 to register an identity theft complaint.
Calling township police could be a good idea too; their phone number is 610-326-1508.