NES says some customers hit by utility bill assistance scam

Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 4:56pm
Staff reports

Nashville Electric Service customers are the latest to be affected by a multi-state payment scam that is being disseminated both in person and electronically.

The scam has hit several utilities in different states, according to NES officials, some reporting as many as 10,000 known cases. NES officials said it is so far unclear how many customers may have been hit by the scam but that transactions have ranged from $100 to $2,000.

Scammers have spread false information via Facebook, Twitter, email, door-to-door flyers, and person to person stating that the federal government will pay customers’ utility bills. The scam claims that President Barack Obama approved special funding through the Federal Reserve Bank for utility bill assistance, but that is not the case.

Victims who gave up their Social Security number and other personal information are then given fraudulent bank account and routing numbers to use when paying their bills online.

“Part of what makes this scam so appealing, is that it actually appears to work,” said Teresa Corlew, NES vice president & chief customer care officer. “The customer receives a credit on their account until the payment is returned.”

Corlew said that NES has identified a fake routing number from GE Capital Bank but that others are likely to be found.

NES reminded customers that employees carry proper identification and don’t contact customers requesting personal information such as bank accounts or social security numbers. Field employees also do not accept payments.

Anyone concerned about the legitimacy of a call or a person, should contact NES Customer Relations directly at 615-736-6900.