July 10, 2012 – Roanoke,
VA – Residents of Virginia
are being misled into believing they are getting up to $1,000 from the
government to pay their cable, gas, and electric utility bills. This scam is
providing thieves access to consumer confidential information, and leading the
consumers to use non-existent grant funds in their accounts to pay other bills.
The fraud puts consumers at risk of identity theft, utility shutoffs, fees for
non-sufficient checks, and more. This scam was first reported in the Midwest
yesterday; as of this morning there are reports of Richmond area residents receiving this same scam. While we have not had reports in our 32
county service area, BBB serving Western VA is
alerting our consumers to be aware of the scam.
are being asked for their social security card and bank routing information by
the criminals, and in return are receiving their supposed government grant. The
routing number used by the scammers is 12408524, and their supposed account
number is 13419. The deposit shows up briefly in the consumer’s checking
account…only later to be found to have been drawn against an invalid account.
criminals are using the texts, e-mails, websites and door to door method. The
most effective part of this scam is that friends and family are participating.
They send checks to pay off their other bills, believing they really have the
money in their account from the deposit the crooks are making. They share this
wonderful news of the government money with family and friends, and when they
discover the money is really not there, they have already written a number of
non-sufficient checks to pay off other bills.
To avoid falling
into this trap:
• Never provide your social
security number, credit card number, or banking information to anyone
requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you have verified the
identity of the party seeking the information.
• If you receive a call claiming
to be your utility company or the government and feel pressured for immediate
personal information, hang up the phone and call the utility customer service
number on your bill.
• Always think safety first. Do
not give into high pressure tactics, and don’t let anyone in your home without
checking their identity.
• Don’t let the immediate pressure
of debt make you too anxious to think through the situation. There are sources
of information available to you to give you the straight story, such as the
If you need more
information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800)
533-5501. You can also visit www.bbb.org.
Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/BBB_WesternVA.