Tonawanda News — National Fuel on Friday issued a scam warning to its customers throughout Western New York’s 11 counties.
The company warns customers of a national scam involving phone calls, emails and door-to-door visits promoting a fictitious federal program offering to pay customers’ utility bills.
Often referred to as a “bailout” or “energy credit” program, scamsters attempt to obtain personal information about their victims.
“Scammers tell customers that they can register for the utility bill payment program by completing information that includes providing their Social Security numbers,” the statement explains. “The scammers then provide customers with bank routing and account numbers to use when paying their utility bills by computer or phone.”
The statement goes on to say the subsequent payments, when made, aren’t automatically rejected by the utility, creating the appearance of legitimacy. After a few days, however, the fraudulent routing and account numbers are discovered and any payments are removed from customers’ accounts.
“The danger to customers is twofold. Divulging personal information, including Social Security numbers, could lead to identity theft and a host 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 service,” a spokesperson at National Fuel said.
Customers are asked to report any evidence of the scam to the utility, by calling 1-800-365-3234.