Utility scam resurfaces in Troy

Staff Reports

TROY — As the temperatures drop and heating bills goes up, scammers are targeting Troy DP&L customers to gain access to their bank accounts and threatening to shut off electricity unless they send money.

Troy Police Department recently advised that this scam has once again resurfaced over the past weekend. The department advises the phone numbers being used are being traced to legitimate businesses. The police department also advises to call the utility company directly concerning your account and to not send money or pre-paid cards over the phone, email or other means.

DP&L reminds customers not to provide personal information or comply with requests for payments unless they are confident with whom they are speaking. Before you do anything, hang up and call DP&L at (800) 433-8500 to ask questions about anyone contacting you about your bill or claiming to be from the utility.

According to a press release from DP&L, the company often gets reports from customers who have been taken advantage of by scammers using different cons to get personal information or cash in fraudulent ways.

Three common scams involve:

Callers asking customers to send a pre-paid debit card to pay their bill or to replace dangerous equipment.

Callers threatening disconnection if payment is not received immediately.

Callers targeting small businesses during peak business hours, such as restaurants at lunch time. The scammers try to catch employees off guard to gain account information, and to instill fear that power will be turned off.

According to the press release, in all cases, the scammers are trying to defraud customers. They often target elderly people and small businesses that are fearful their electricity may be turned off unless they comply immediately. These scammers usually have a little bit of information about you and will try to persuade you to provide more so they can gain access to your bank accounts and/or use your credit card numbers.

Scams may use email, social media, phone calls or even door-to-door visits. Many victims received forwarded emails or text messages from well-meaning friends and family who were also victimized.

DP&L offers these tips:

— Never give anyone personal information such as your Social Security number (including the numbers on the back of your Social Security card), bank account number or credit card number unless you initiated the conversation and you are confident the transaction is legitimate.

— DP&L does not require or strongly recommend a specific payment method or type. We offer a variety of payment options so customers can select the option that best meets their needs.

— If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with your utility company asking for payment, hang up and call the utility’s customer service number. DP&L customers can email us or call (800) 433-8500.

— DP&L will only come to your door to collect payment if your account is past due and you have been sent notice that your account is scheduled for disconnection. DP&L employees carry photo identification which customers should request to see. For your protection, please verify that anyone who approaches you to collect money for your DP&L bill is either a DP&L employee or an approved contractor.

— If you have already provided information to someone making this offer, contact your bank and the three national credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, immediately.

— If someone pressures you to provide personal or financial information, hang up immediately. Notify your local police department.

— Check on elderly relatives and friends, often targets of such schemes, to make sure they have not fallen victim to this fraud.

Staff Reports