PSC Warns Missourians of Utility Scams
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) warned of a scam Friday which has been promising utility payments to thousands of people nationwide, including some in Missouri.
Consumers have been contacted in person, through fliers, social media and by phone and text messages claiming that the Obama administration is applying credits or payments to utility bills through a new federal program. Scammers say they need the customers' Social Security and bank routing numbers to receive the money. The scammers then give consumers a fake bank routing number to use that will supposedly pay their utility bills.
"People should always take steps to protect their personal information, such as Social Security numbers, credit cards or bank account numbers," said Public Service Commission Chairman Kevin Gunn. "Please keep your personal information private."
According to the PSC, the following are ways the community can prevent identity theft:
- Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you initiated the contact.
- Before sharing any personal information, people need to confirm that they are working with a legitimate organization.
- Do not disclose any credit card numbers to an online vendor unless it is encrypted and the site is secure.
- Do not write Social Security numbers or telephone numbers on checks or credit card receipts.
- Shred documents that contain personal or financial information such as bank statements, credit card applications, store receipts or utility bills.
- Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless you have a scheduled appointment or have reported a problem. Also, be sure to ask utility employees for proper identification.
For more information, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338. To help recognize and report identity theft, contact the Missouri Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222.