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Dominion Virginia warns of utility bill scam

Saturday - 7/21/2012, 10:26am  ET

WASHINGTON - Dominion Virginia Power is warning its customers about a scam offering payment of their high summer utility bills through a federal program.

The scam involves a call, social media message, text or even a knock on the door, along with the claim that the federal government will cover utility bills for those that "register" their Social Security numbers and banking information.

Scam targets also are told to make payments using what is actually a fake account number.

Those who have been contacted or fallen victim to the scam can contact the Better Business Bureau, which offers the following tips:

  • Beware of giving personal information over the phone. 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 initiated the contact and feel confident about the person with whom you are speaking.
  • Use your own personal information. Always pay your bills with your own personal information; never pay your bills with information that is not your own.
  • Do your research. If you receive a call claiming to be from your utility company and feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill.
  • Beware of the door-to-door sales approach. Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless you have scheduled an appointment or have reported a utility problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification.
  • Be proactive. If you have already provided information to someone claiming to offer this service, contact your bank immediately. Also contact the three national credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - and have a notation made on your account so it doesn't impact your credit rating.
  • Inform others. Share this information with friends and family so they do not become victims. Elderly victims are common in this type of scam, but anyone who pays a utility bill is a potential target.

WTOP's Max Smith contributed to this report.Follow Max and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)