Electric customers targeted in telephone scam

NEWTON, NC (Oct. 28, 2013) -- The City of Newton urges its electric customers to be alert and wary of a telephone scam that has been reported in a number of states.

The American Public Power Association (APPA) reports the scam involves telephone callers claiming to be from a utility company. The caller then uses various techniques to defraud customers. Some threaten customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they do not make a payment immediately. The scam artist instructs them to send money via prepaid card or online payment service, such as PayPal or GreenDot, before their power is shut off.  The scammer’s caller-ID is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as ‘spoofing.’

Any customers who receive such a call should not provide any financial or personal information (Social Security number, driver’s license number, or credit or debit card number) over the phone. Customers should contact the City of Newton customer service department, who can verify the current status of the account. Customers also are encouraged to contact local law enforcement if they get any suspicious calls demanding immediate payment of their electric bill.

According to the APPA, electric customers have been targeted in several states including Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and New Mexico.