Worcester Co. Warns Of Local Phone Scam

A phone scam has been reported in Worcester County, where residents have been getting calls falsely demanding payment for a utility bill or a tax bill.

According to Worcester County authorities, the county does not call someone to threaten shut-off of water or sewer service. The scam appears to be an attempt to gain personal information.

“WCG (Worcester County Government) does not call anyone,” Public Works Deputy Director John Ross said. “We do not maintain a list of users’ phone numbers, and we would never call a customer to discuss turning on or off their water. Like all other utilities, it’s just not something we would do over the phone.”

A recipient of such a call should not offer any bank account or personal information, and a demand for payment in gift cards, crypto-currency or wired money is never legitimate.

Any suspected scam should be reported to local law enforcement or the Federal Trade Commission.

Worcester County officials passed along these tips from the FTC:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that individuals who receive calls from anyone claiming to be from a utility company take the following steps:

·         Thank the caller for the information. Then firmly tell them you will contact the utility company directly using the number on your bill or on the company’s website.

·         Even if the caller insists you have a past due bill or your services will be shut off, never give banking information over the phone unless you place the call to a number you know is legitimate.

·         Utility companies don’t demand banking information by email or phone. And they won’t force you to pay by phone as your only option.

·         If the caller demands payment by gift card, cash reload card, wiring money or cryptocurrency, it is a scam. Legitimate companies don’t demand payment by gift cards (like iTunes or Amazon), cash reload cards (like MoneyPak, Vanilla, or Reloadit), or cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin).

·         Tell your friends and loved ones about the scam, so they can protect themselves too.       

Be sure to report the fraudulent activity to the FTC or your local law enforcement agency.

Learn more about how to avoid a scam at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-avoid-scam.