Attorney General Gansler Warns Consumers About New Utility Scam
Don't be a victim: "Obama administration grant" to pay utility bills is a hoax
Baltimore, MD ( July 11, 2012) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is warning Maryland consumers not to be fooled by a new utility scam claiming to provide a federal government grant that will pay off utility bills.
"Consumers should never give up their hard-earned money until verifying the legitimacy of an offer – no matter how enticing it may seem," said Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. "The rule of thumb to follow is if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
The scam, which has turned up in Maryland and at least a dozen other states, purports that consumers can have their outstanding utility bills paid off by paying $1,000 to $1,200 for a federal grant authorized by the Obama administration. However, victims are asked for their Social Security number and other personal information to complete the online transaction.
Consumers, who are contacted by phone, email and door-to-door solicitors, are tricked into believing that the grant was deposited into their account and their utility bills were paid, when neither is true and the scammers now have possession of consumers' personal information that can be used to do further harm.
Consumers should only give their personal information to people they know and only for legitimate purposes.
Individuals who think they have been solicited with this scam can file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division at http://www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/complaint.htm or contact the consumer hotline at 410-528-8662 or 1-888-743-0023 for more information. Consumers who believe they are victims of identity theft should call the Attorney General's Identity Theft Unit at 410-576-6491 or learn more information at http://www.oag.state.md.us/idtheft/index.htm.