From the Better Business Bureau
Residents of southwest Michigan are being misled into believing they are getting up to $1,000 from the government to pay their cable, gas, and electric utility bills. This scam is providing thieves access to consumer confidential information, and leading the consumers to use non-existent funds in their accounts to pay other bills.
Consumers are being asked for their social security card and bank routing information by the criminals, and in return are receiving their supposed government grant. The routing number used by the scammers is 12408524, and their supposed account number is 13419.
The deposit shows up briefly in the consumer’s checking account, only later to be found to have been drawn against an invalid account.
The criminals are using texts, e-mails, websites and the door-to-door method. The most effective part of this scam is that friends and family are participating. They send checks to pay off their other bills, believing they really have the money in their account from the deposit the crooks are making. They share this wonderful news of the government money with family and friends, and when they discover the money is really not there, they have already written a bunch of non-sufficient checks to pay off other bills.
To avoid falling into this trap:
· Never provide your social security number, credit card number, or banking information to anyone requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you have verified the identity of the party seeking the information.
· If you receive a call claiming to be your utility company or the government and feel pressured for immediate personal information, hang up the phone and call the utility customer service number on your bill.
· Always think safety first. Do not give into high-pressure tactics, and don’t let anyone in your home without checking their identity.
· Don’t let the immediate pressure of debt make you too anxious to think through the situation. There are sources of information available to you to give you the straight story, such as the BBB.