PBGC - Office of Inspector General

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Fraud Awareness Alert (2014-02) - Public Utility Company / Green Dot Visa Card Scam

Subject: Public Utility Company / Green Dot Visa Card Scam
Date: September 22, 2014

The Office of Inspector General is alerting you to a current fraud scam involving alleged cancellation of public utility services. In most instances, an individual will receive a phone call from someone purporting to be a representative of a public utility service [e.g. Baltimore Gas and Electric (BG&E)]. The caller will claim the victim's public utility service is scheduled to be terminated unless immediate payment is made. The imposter suggests payment be made via the use of a "Green Dot" Visa credit card, which the victim can purchase from the imposter. The imposter will then request personal financial information from the victim in order to "process" the purchase of the "Green Dot" Visa credit card.

Utility companies and other legitimate businesses do not call people and ask them to pay bills with Green Dot visa cards.

The PBGC employees and pension participants are encouraged not to fall victim to this scam and offers these avoidance suggestions:

Scammers pressure people to divulge their bank account information so that they can steal the money in the account. Always keep your bank account information confidential. Don't share it unless you are familiar with the company and know why the information is necessary. Call the Customer Service Center of your current public utility if you have questions concerning your account(s), and then your local law enforcement agency as needed.

Some con artists use Internet Technology to disguise their area code in caller ID systems. Although it may look like they're calling from Washington, DC, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.

If you want to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive, place your telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. To register online, visit donotcall.gov. To register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone number you wish to register.

If someone knocks at your door, be extra cautious:

Most public utility companies require their employees and contractors to carry company identification badges, displaying their name, photograph and identification number. Remember:

Customers who encounter suspicious activity or suspected utility imposters are urged to contact law enforcement immediately. If at any time, customers are concerned for their safety, they should contact 911. Assaults have occurred so you are protecting yourself and your neighbors.

Many public utility companies no longer accept cash payments in the field and offer customers safe, convenient ways to make payments including calling them via 1-800 contact numbers, or on-line, by mail and/or at authorized payment locations.

If you are a victim of a Public Utility Company / Green Dot Visa Card Scam, file a complaint with your public utility service's Customer Service Center and local law enforcement agency.

For more information about reporting suspected fraud, waste, or abuse to the Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, please contact: Special Agent in Charge Curtis Flood at ext. 3104, Special Agent Charles Jones at ext. 3315, or Special Agent Claressia Jones at ext. 3685. (TTY/TDD Users: 202-326-4115)

Peter P. Paradis, Sr.
Assistant Inspector General
for Investigations
Pension Benefits Guarantee Corporation
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