Cuccinelli warns of utility bill scammers targeting Virginians - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Cuccinelli warns of utility bill scammers targeting Virginians

Posted: Updated:

Virginia Attorney General's Office news release

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli warns Virginians to be cautious of scam phone calls from individuals who claim to be an employee of their electric utility provider and demand immediate payment of their bill.

There have been several recent reports of citizens receiving calls, where the caller claims to be a company employee and threatens to shut off electric service unless a delinquent bill is paid within a matter of hours.

Those called are then encouraged to go to Walmart or another retailer to purchase a Green Dot Visa card or other pre-paid debit card so that funds can be loaded onto the card and a payment can be made over the phone to the scammer.

The scammers appear to be specifically targeting Spanish-speaking customers, the elderly, and businesses in the state.

The scammers sometimes are able to gain an additional aura of legitimacy by "spoofing" the utility's phone number so that the citizen's Caller ID makes it appear they are receiving a phone call from their utility.

Instances have been reported to date by customers of Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Dominion Virginia Power, and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative.

Cuccinelli urged all Virginians to protect themselves from these scammers and offers these tips.

  • Always attempt to verify the identity of any individual calling you who claims to represent a business. Do not provide money or personal information to an unsolicited caller whose identity you are not able to verify.   
  • Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won't pressure you to make a snap decision.
  • If you receive a call along the lines described, do not make a payment by purchasing a Green Dot card or other means.   Please do immediately contact your utility's local office to report the call and to verify your account status.
  • If you received a call along the lines described and you made a payment to the scammer, report that information to your local law enforcement.   You may also report this information to state or federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission.

"Scammers are always coming up with new tricks to take away your hard-earned money. Taking advantage of innocent people is intolerable, shameful, and appalling-- especially in this tough economy-- and my office will not stand for it," said Cuccinelli.

Consumers should know that, although it is possible that their utility may contact them by phone if they are delinquent on a bill, the utility will never direct them to make a payment in a specific form, for example, by Green Dot Card. In those situations, the utility will only inform the customer of how they may make a payment, such as by coming to the corporate office and providing a check, money order or cash, or mailing a check with their most recent bill, or contacting the corporate office and paying by credit or debit card.

Consumers also should know that their utility typically will not communicate with them about the potential termination of their electric service over the phone but instead will do so only through a mailed communication.

"We are taking the necessary steps to inform the citizens of Virginia that scammers are real, and educating them on how to protect themselves," said Cuccinelli.

If you have questions about this scam, the Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection telephone counselors are available to assist you with your consumer questions. Please call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-552-9963 if calling from Virginia, or 804-786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area. The Consumer Protection office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Customers of Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperatives can call toll-free at 1-800-234-7832 and speak with a customer service representative regarding any questions or concerns.

Customers of Dominion Power can call toll-free at 1-866-366-4357 and speak with a customer service representative. 

Customers of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative can call toll-free at 1-800-552-3904 to speak with a customer service representative.

  • Franklin County accident causes lane closures on Brooks Mill Road

    State Trooper injured in accident on Brooks Mill Road

    State Trooper injured in accident on Brooks Mill Road

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 3:05 PM EDT2014-07-30 19:05:42 GMT
    State Police confirm that a trooper was involved in a crash Tuesday night.
    State Police confirm that a trooper was involved in a crash Tuesday night.
  • Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:41 AM EDT2014-07-30 04:41:44 GMT
    ROANOKE (WSLS) - A man wanted for sex crimes against a minor was captured in Roanoke during a traffic stop.
    ROANOKE (WSLS) - A man wanted for sex crimes against a minor was captured in Roanoke during a traffic stop.
  • Roanoke Police investigate shots fired incident

    Roanoke Police investigate shots fired incident

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:37 PM EDT2014-07-30 02:37:03 GMT
    On July 29, 2014 at 6:08 p.m. Roanoke Police were dispatched to the 1200 block of Orange Avenue NE to investigate a shots fired call. Immediately upon arrival officers detained several subjects believed to have been involved in the incident. The preliminary investigation suggests the individuals involved were traveling in two different vehicles on Hollins Road when at least one of the occupants in one of the vehicles starting shooting at the other vehicle. The vehicles separated briefly and t...
    On July 29, 2014 at 6:08 p.m. Roanoke Police were dispatched to the 1200 block of Orange Avenue NE to investigate a shots fired call. Immediately upon arrival officers detained several subjects believed to have been involved in the incident. The preliminary investigation suggests the individuals involved were traveling in two different vehicles on Hollins Road when at least one of the occupants in one of the vehicles starting shooting at the other vehicle. The vehicles separated briefly and t...
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.