Grand Rapids, MI –July9, 2012 - Residents of southwest Michigan are being misled into believingthey are getting up to $1,000 from the government to pay their cable, gas, andelectric utility bills. This scam isproviding thieves access to consumer confidential information, and leading theconsumers to use non-existent funds in their accounts to pay other bills. The fraud puts consumers at risk of identitytheft, utility shutoffs, fees for non-sufficient checks, and more. In Niles alone there have been 10 invalidaccount notifications in 24 hours for utility payments. BBB received two reports from Kalamazoo todayas well.
Consumers are being asked for their social security card andbank routing information by the criminals, and in return are receiving theirsupposed government grant. The routingnumber used by the scammers is 12408524, and their supposed account number is13419. The deposit shows up briefly inthe consumer’s checking account…only later to be found to have been drawnagainst an invalid account.
Texts, e-mails, door to door sales, websites and word ofmouth from friends and family are all involved. The criminals are using the texts, e-mails, websites and door to doormethod. The most effective part of thisscam is that friends and family are participating. They send checks to pay off their otherbills, believing they really have the money in their account from the depositthe crooks are making. They share thiswonderful news of the government money with family and friends, and when theydiscover the money is really not there, they have already written a bunch ofnon-sufficient checks to pay off other bills.
To avoid falling into this trap:
· Never provide your social security number,credit card number, or banking information to anyone requesting it over thephone or at your home unless you have verified the identity of the partyseeking the information.
· If you receive a call claiming to be yourutility company or the government and feel pressured for immediate personalinformation, hang up the phone and call the utility customer service number onyour bill.
· Always think safety first. Do not give into high pressure tactics, anddon’t let anyone in your home without checking their identity.
· Don’t let the immediate pressure of debt makeyou too anxious to think through the situation. There are sources of information available to you to give you thestraight story, such as the BBB.
AboutBetter Business Bureau:
BBB's mission is to be theleader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission bycreating a community of trustworthy businesses, setting standards formarketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebratingmarketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior.
Businessesthat earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to theorganization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB is thepreeminent resource to turn to for objective, unbiased information onbusinesses and charities.
Contact BBB serving WesternMichigan at (616) 774-8236 or email@example.com