Police Warn About Utility Bill Phone Scam

By City News Service

Authorities on Wednesday warned Southlanders about criminals who have been telephoning people and falsely telling them they must pay their utility bills with a pre-paid cash card or face immediate service termination.

The phony calls have been increasing in frequency in the last few months, according to the Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. Department of Water and Power.

“The scam involves imposters posing as utility personnel, contacting customers by telephone, and informing them they are behind in payment of their bill,” the LAPD said in a statement.

Scammers threaten to cut off service unless the customer buys a pre-paid cash card and then calls a telephone number staffed by criminals who receive card information to “pay” the fictional utility bill, according to police.

“The LADWP offers customers numerous options to pay their bills,” police said, adding that the only way to pay by phone is through an automated payment system.

LADWP employees never call customers to ask them to pay a bill over the phone, nor are they allowed to accept payment information verbally over the phone, according to police.

“It is unlikely a customer will be facing immediate service termination without prior knowledge,” police said.

Any customer with questions about being contacted by the LADWP should call (800) DIAL-DWP to confirm that the person contacting him or her is an actual employee of the utility, according to police.

Also, people suspecting they are victims of a crime can call Crime Stoppers, (800) 222-TIPS, according to police.

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February 7, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

2 Responses to “Police Warn About Utility Bill Phone Scam”

  1. AMy on February 8th, 2013 6:18 am

    I have been called by someone who claimed my counsin was in a car accident and to send money via western union. Did a search and found that others reported the same scam on …

  2. Karen on February 19th, 2013 7:49 am

    I got a call similar to that, purportedly from my telephone company. Actually, the calls started, I noticed, when I changed my phone number about 2 weeks ago. The callers claimed I missed paying my bill and that I should make an immediate payment or my line would be cut off. I was alarmed not because I believed the caller but because I knew it was a scam and these scammers have my information, especially the last four digits of the Visa card number I used to pay my bill. I’m wondering how these people got my information.

    Is it possible that the telephone company probably sold them that?

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