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The Virginia Association of Area Agencies on Aging Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Program is warning of a scam involving utility bills and an alleged federal government assistance program.
There is no such utility payment assistance program.
This scam has affected older residents in the Eastern Shore region of Virginia, and thousands of complaints are being reported nationally.
Criminals are persuading victims that a special federal government assistance program — sometimes described as a bailout authorized by President Obama’s administration — is available to pay their utility bills. Victims are given a bank account and routing numbers to use when paying their bills online, but only after they have surrendered their Social Security numbers and personal information.
Before the utility companies get wise to the bogus accounts being used, the payments are processed and initially credited to victims, who received payment confirmation notices. The victims often share this information with family and friends. Only later are the payments rescinded.
Customers should never pay their bills with information that is not their own. Be aware of scammers going door to door and handing out leaflets. If you have questions, call and verify the authenticity of an e-mail with your local utility company.
• If you think you have been a target of a scam, or a scam related to healthcare, report it to the Virginia SMP program at 1-800-938-8885 or visit virginiasmp.org.