AUGUSTA – Attorney General William J. Schneider is warning consumers about a scam that claims a new federal government assistance program, sometimes described as a bailout authorized by President Barack Obama’s administration, will pay your utility bills.
To receive a credit or apply a payment to a utility bill, consumers are asked to provide their Social Security and bank routing numbers. In return, they are given a phony bank routing number that will supposedly pay their utility bills. In reality, there is no money and customers believe they have paid their bills when in fact they have not.
While it appears that this scam may not yet have reached Maine, other states have seen large numbers of consumers become victims very quickly. The scammers use text messages, ficticious tweets and Facebook to reach potential victims through social media channels. Agents for the criminals have even gone door to door handing out flyers. In other states, payments were sometimes processed and initially credited to victims before the local utility company identified the account numbers as unauthorized. Victims who received payment confirmation notices shared their story with family and friends, who also fell for the scam. Only later were the payments rescinded.
“We want Mainers to realize that scammers will use the names well-known local companies, government officials, and other notable people to convince you that their offer is legitimate,” said Attorney General Schneider. “Don’t fall for it.”
If you think you have experienced a utility bill scam, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (207)626-8849.
July 13, 2012
Attorney General’s Office