The town of Oak Ridge recently reported a spate of fraudulent utility calls.
The City of Oak Ridge Utility Business Office learned in June that some customers had received calls from someone claiming to be with the city saying their bills were overdue and if they didn’t pay they would be disconnected.
“This is a con artist, not the town of Oak Ridge,” the town said in its Facebook post.
The city said it was not calling overdue accounts. If a customer is late, a disconnection notice will print in red on their monthly statement, indicating the amount overdue and the date by which it must be paid to avoid the disconnection.
Here’s what the city said to be careful.
- Most of the people who called to report the scam were residential customers.
- A customer said the appellant said he was from another utility board in the area.
- The caller told customers they had 15 minutes to pay or they would be disconnected.
- They told the customer that their balance was a random amount, up to $ 1,500.
- The calls appear to be from the Town of Oak Ridge, (865) 425-3400, but they are not from the town.
What if you think you’ve been scammed?
The city of Oak Ridge shared advice from the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office and reporter Herbert J. Slattery on what to do if you think you’ve been scammed. These tips are available on an official website.
First of all, stop all contact with the scammer, the official website says. Hang up the phone. Do not reply to emails, messages or letters sent by the scammer. If you made a payment, stop making payments to the scammer. Beware of additional scammers who may contact you claiming that they can help you get your lost money back.
Second, secure your finances. Immediately report a potentially compromised bank account or credit or debit card information to your financial institutions. They may be able to reverse or cancel fraudulent transactions.
Third, notify the three major credit bureaus. They can add a fraud alert to warn potential credit providers that you may be a victim of identity theft. You can also consider freezing the security of your credit report for free. This prevents lenders and others from fully accessing your credit report, which will prevent them from extending credit.
Here are the three major credit bureaus:
Fourth, check your computer. If your computer has been accessed or otherwise affected by a scam, make sure your antivirus program is up to date and running, and your system is free of malware and keylogging software. You may also need to seek help from a computer repair company. Consider using the Better Business Bureau’s website to find a reputable business.
Fifth, change your account passwords. Update your bank, credit card, social media, and email account passwords to try and limit additional unauthorized access. Be sure to choose strong passwords when changing account passwords.
Sixth, report the scam. Reporting helps protect others. While agencies may not always be able to track down perpetrators of crimes against scammers, they can use the information gathered to record patterns of abuse that can lead to action against a business or industry.
Report your problem to the following agencies depending on the nature of the scam.
- The Slattery office encouraged consumers to report scams to their local police department or the sheriff’s office, particularly if they have lost money or property or if their identity has been compromised.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or use the online claims assistant to report various types of fraud, including counterfeit checks, lottery or raffle and more.
- If someone is using your personal information to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund, report it at www.identitytheft.gov. This federal government site will also help you create your identity theft report and personal recovery plan based on your situation. Questions can be directed to 877-ID THEFT.
- Scam complaints can be reported to the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs (or a similar consumer protection agency in your state). Consumers can also file a complaint with Consumer Affairs if they have a dispute with a business regarding a transaction.
- Reporting to the BBB Scam Tracker can help others become aware of scams that may be circulating in your area.