Scams on the rise during COVID-19 pandemic; The latest: Utility scams

UTILITY SCAMS ARE ON THE RISE AGAIN

 The following is from the Office of People’s Counsel:

Utility scams are on the rise again! Scammers are taking advantage of Americans’ worries about paying household bills during the COVID-19 crisis.

The scammers may not come to your door, due to the Governor’s Emergency Orders, but they may call you.

Typical types of phone scams include:

SCAM: Threatening to disconnect your utility services unless you make immediate payment through a prepaid debit card.
FACT: A utility cannot disconnect you during the State of Emergency. A utility will never call you to tell you to pay by prepaid card or Western Union to avoid disconnection. A utility must send you disconnection notices before they can terminate your service.

SCAM: A utility representative calls to say you are owed a refund by your energy supplier.
FACT: A utility will not contact you about an energy supplier, energy bills or any refund from a supplier. The scammer is trying to get personal information or your account number.

SCAM: Utility representative calls to tell you about a 30% discount on your energy bill.
FACT: A utility’s rates are regulated and approved by the Public Service Commission. A utility cannot offer you a discount. The scammer is trying to get personal information or your account number.

If you receive one of these calls, hang up immediately!

To report a call, contact your local utility or the Public Service Commission of the Office of People’s Counsel.
Call the OPC at 800-207-4055 or email DLInfo_OPC@maryland.gov.

 

STIMULUS CHECK SCAMS

While you’re waiting to receive your economic impact payment, there are scammers out there trying to get their hands on your money, and your personal information!

Beware of stimulus check scams!
According to the AARP website, in one scam people may receive an email, text or other social media message, claiming the IRS needs money or personal information before sending you your tax refund or stimulus check. Don’t open the email or otherwise respond to this scam.

Other signs a swindler want your cash, also from the AARP website:

  • The caller or emailer uses the words “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment.” The term that government officials are using is “economic-impact payment.”
  • You’re asked to sign your check over to the caller.
  • You receive an email, text or social media message saying that you need to verify your personal and/or banking information to speed up your stimulus payment.
  • The individual offers to get you your payment faster.
  • You receive a fake check, and then the sender tells you to call a number to verify your personal information in order to cash it.
    Information from the AARP website