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Columbia Gas warns customers about nationwide 'energy credit' scam

Phone calls, emails, texts, even door-to-door visits aimed at getting customers to divulge personal, financial information

July 17, 2012

Columbia Gas of Maryland is alerting its customers, and the general public, to a nationwide scam designed to elicit personal information and account numbers through a bogus offer of an “Obama Energy Credit.”

Utilizing personal calls, computer generated calls, emails and texts, social media and even door-to-door visits, scammers are offering gas and electric utility customers an “energy credit” to be applied to their utility bills and furnishing false bank routing and account numbers for customers to make a utility payment by computer or phone, the utility said in an emailed release.
 
Customers have to register for the credit by furnishing information including Social Security numbers and other information, the utility said.

There is no such “energy credit” available and Columbia Gas advises its customers to be wary of anyone claiming to represent a utility company asking for personal information and account numbers.

Columbia Gas said the danger to customers is twofold. Divulging personal information including Social Security numbers could lead to identity theft and a number of problems as the scammers open fraudulent bank or credit card accounts using the information. In addition, customers’ utility bills could go unpaid leading to late charges and potential disruption of utility service, the utility said.

Columbia Gas of Maryland said it has not yet received any reports of Maryland customers subjected to the scam.

Customers who receive such a call are urged to hang up and immediately call their utility company to report it. Columbia Gas customers should call 1-888-460-4332.

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