By Natasha Brown
WILMINGTON, Del., (CBS) — An alert about scams targeting utility customers including one that shows up in your e-mail. They’re threatening to shut off your power unless you fork over cash.
Phoebe Johnson is the owner of Evelyn’s Soul Food restaurant in Wilmington, Delaware. Last week she had a restaurant full of customers when she got a phone call that sent her scrambling.
“The electric was going to be shut off within an hour if a bill wasn’t paid. I had a restaurant filled with people and my first thing was to just run up and just go do what they said,” Johnson said.
The man pretending to be with Delmarva utility company told Phoebe to rush and purchase a re-loadable credit card and place $500 on it that would go toward her utility bill. She did. Then she called the man back with the card’s information.
“He told me to scratch off the back. Read the numbers off to him,” she said.
Phoebe had just been scammed, one of many businesses in Wilmington that had fallen victim in the last few weeks.
“Businesses, they’re targeting restaurants in the Delaware area and they’re trying to get to their funds,” Nick Morici of Delmarva Power said.
This type of scam is one way that scam artists are bilking unsuspecting utility customers. They’re sending out bogus bills online in an attempt to get personal information.
We showed this e-mail sent to one of our producers to Delmarva’s representative who immediately spotted it as a fake.
“Be wary of any suspicious e-mails. Not only are they looking for funds from your bank account but they’re also looking to infect your computer,” Morici said.
PSE&G is now warning its customers of a similar e-mail scam. Customers receiving e-mails that look like pending utility bills with a link to view their account information.
The company asks if you do receive a suspicious email do not click on any links and do not open any attachments. It assures its customers it does not ask anyone to provide personal information online without logging into MyAccount on the PSE&G website.
If you think you may have been the victim of a scam, call: 1-800-436-PSEG.
Utility companies around the country are now warning customers of these scams so they don’t fall victim in the future.
“Fairness is key. We’ll continue to work with our customers and we invite any our customers to call us at any time if they have questions,” Morici said.
“Ask a little bit more questions because I didn’t. I could have but I didn’t,” Johnson said.
Utility companies are warning customers about these cyber crimes that are on the rise. They say if you ever receive a phone call or an e-mail that doesn’t appear to be legitimate, call an official representative from the company right away.