This is a common scam that occurs in our area every few months. Over the weekend, three local hotels were called by a person purporting to be a representative of Dominion Virginia Power. The caller explains to the victim that their business is delinquent on his/her business’ electric bill and threatens immediate suspension of electricity if the account is not reconciled.
The caller says that if she pays immediately over the phone using a credit card, then there will be no interruption in service. The caller is quite persuasive.
In every incident reported today, none of the business owners were duped by the scammers and reported the bogus calls to Dominion and the Police Department.
The Waynesboro Police Department recommends that callers who receive similar calls to be practice caution and follow the below guidelines provided by the Federal Trade Commission:
- Resist pressure to make a decision immediately.
- Keep your credit card, checking account, or Social Security numbers to yourself. Don’t tell them to callers you don’t know — even if they ask you to “confirm” this information. That’s a trick.
- Don’t pay for something just because you’ll get a “free gift.”
- Get all information in writing before you agree to buy.
- Check out a charity before you give. Ask how much of your donation actually goes to the charity. Ask the caller to send you written information so you can make an informed decision without being pressured, rushed, or guilted into it.
- If the offer is an investment, check with your state securities regulator to see if the offer — and the offeror — are properly registered.
- Don’t send cash by messenger, overnight mail, or money transfer. If you use cash or a money transfer — rather than a credit card — you may lose your right to dispute fraudulent charges. The money will be gone.
- Don’t agree to any offer for which you have to pay a “registration” or “shipping” fee to get a prize or a gift.
- Research offers with your consumer protection agency or state Attorney General’s office before you agree to send money.
- Beware of offers to “help” you recover money you have already lost. Callers that say they are law enforcement officers who will help you get your money back “for a fee” are scammers.
- Report any caller who is rude or abusive, even if you already sent them money. They’ll want more. Call 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit ftc.gov/complaint.