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Utility Bill Payment Scam

Scam:   Fraudsters claim a government grant will pay your utility bill in full for one month.

Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, May 2012]

My friend just informed me that President Obama is paying her electric bill this month. That supposedly you call and use your ss# as the bank account, then give them the routing number of 061000146 and thats it, it pays for your electric bill but only once a year.
 

My daughter called me a couple of days ago asking me if I had already paid my Florida Power & Light (FPL) bill, I told her that I hadn't and she proceeded to tell me that the accounts were being funded by some entity for this month only for Florida residents. I gave her my account information, including SS #. I received a confirmation # from FPL. TOday she calls me to tell me that she had found out this was a scam. She has no idea of how this was distribute, a friend of hers is the one who provided all the information.
 

President Obama Pays Your Cell Phone Bill

My homeboy just called me and said "Yo I think Obama is paying peoples phone bills" immediately I thought it was a scam but then he said that he used it after his girlfriend used it. He went on to say that she found the weird posting on Instagram along with a routing number and an account number. At this point I'm like just give me the information. He also said his mom used it to pay her bill that was upwards of $500. With all this said I tried to use it on my Metro PCS aacount and it didn't work so now I I'm thinking what a scam this is. I'm not here to discourage you but to let you take a stab at it to see if it works. Below you will find all the info you need.

Routing Number: 211770125
Account Number: 211211
Use as an electronic check online.
 

There is a rumor going around my office that states President Obama recently passed a new stimulus bill. It states that you can use a Chase Bank routing number (3 124085024) and the numbers in red on the back of your social security card as the account number. The rumor states that the bank will allow up to $1,000 worth of transactions but cannot be used to obtain cash.
 

Origins:   One apparently increasing form of identity theft scam uses the setup that some entity (typically a state or federal agency) is providing grants to pay people's utility bills for one month. All
customers need do is call a particular phone number, provide some information, and their current monthly gas or electric bills will be credited in full with no payment necessary.

Although various government programs do exist to assist low-income households in paying essential utility bills, there is no government program that provides blanket grants to cover everyone's utility bills in full for a whole month. This scheme is nothing but an identity theft scam that uses the lure of promising something for nothing in order to entice victims into divulging their Social Security numbers and other sensitive personal information.

In May 2012, Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G), a New Jersey gas and electric delivery utility, issued a warning to customers about this scam:
PSE&G is alerting its customers to a nationwide phony bill payment program that promises to credit or pay utility bills in exchange for personal information, including social security numbers. The scam, which has been reported in a number of states, claims that the Obama Administration is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills.

Here's how the scam works:
  • Utility customers get a phone call telling them that the federal government has a program to pay utility bills on a one-time basis.
  • The thieves ask customers to provide their social security numbers to apply for the program.
  • The scammers also give customers a Federal Reserve bank routing number to use when paying their bills online. Customers who use this number are led to believe that their bills are paid.
PSE&G is telling its customers that this is a scam, payments aren't being applied to their accounts, and their PSE&G account balances remain due.

PSE&G is not contacting its customers and requesting social security numbers, nor is the company asking customers for the usernames and passwords they use to access their PSE&G accounts online.
As MSNBC noted of this scheme:
One reason the scam is spreading: It seems to work. Before the local utility company gets wise to the bogus account numbers being used, the payments are processed and initially credited to victims, who receive payment confirmation notices. The victims often share their success stories with family and friends, who also fall for the scam. Only later are the payments rescinded. Victims who try out the fake account numbers may not realize their bill remains unpaid, utility firms say, and they risk late fees or even service interruption.
Last updated:   10 July 2012

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  Sources Sources:
    Muschick, Paul.   "Obama Isn't Paying Your Electric Bill."
    The [Lehigh Valley] Morning Call,.   7 July 2012.

    Sullivan, Bob.   "Obama Paying Utility Bills? Scam Victims Nationwide Think So."
    MSNBC.com.   9 July 2012.

    Associated Press.   "Atmos Energy Warns About Utility Bill Scam."
    KRLD-TV [Dallas].   18 May 2012.