Cathy Jett is the assistant business editor at The Free Lance-Star, and specializes in covering the area's retail scene.
Columbia Gas warns utility customers of ‘energy credit’ scam
Have you received an offer of an “Energy Credit offered by the Obama administration”?
Columbia Gas of Virginia wants you to know that it’s bogus.
Scammers are using personal calls, computer-generated calls, emails and texts, social media and even door-to-door visits to offer gas and electric utility customers an “energy credit” to be applied to their utility bills.
To register to receive it, customers are told they must furnish information including their Social Security numbers and other information. Then the scammers give them false bank routing and account numbers to make a utility payment by computer or phone, according to a press release Columbia Gas sent out this evening.
The company is advising customers to be wary of anyone claiming to represent a utility company asking for personal information and account numbers. The danger is twofold.
Divulging personal information including Social Security numbers could lead to identity theft and a host of problems as the scammers open fraudulent bank or credit card accounts using the information. In addition, customers’ utility bills could go unpaid leading to late charges and potential disruption of utility service.
Columbia Gas of Virginia said it has not received any reports of Virginia customers subjected to the scam. Customers who do receive such a call are urged to hang up and not provide information to the caller. They should then contact the non-emergency number of their local police department
and report the attempted solicitation.
In addition, Columbia Gas of Virginia customers can call 800/543-8911 should they have questions about their account.