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Police Warn Customers Of Utility Phone Scam Making Rounds In Suburban Philadelphia

By Jan Carabeo

EAST WHITELAND Twp., Pa., (CBS) -- PECO customers beware. Police are investigating a telephone scam now making the rounds in suburban Philadelphia. Detectives say at least half dozen people have already been conned out of thousands of dollars.

East Whiteland police say they have gotten five reports of the scam in just one week. In each case, the scammer wanted a pre-paid Green Dot MoneyPak card.

Here's how investigators say it works:

A customer gets a call from someone claiming to be with PECO. The caller threatens to shut off the utilities if the customer does not pay that day. The customer is then asked to load a Green Dot card with money and give the card information to the scammers so they can cash in.

And it's not just PECO. Detectives say scammers are posing as the IRS too.

"They should understand it's not really the IRS calling, and it's not the electric company calling," East Whiteland Detective Tricia Logic said. "And they should, before they do anything, contact the electric company, see if their bill is squared away, and certainly they should recall if they paid their taxes the year before."

East Whiteland police say one person was taken for $24,000 from a scammer claiming to be with the IRS.

Police say the IRS does not accept payment with these types of cards.

Meanwhile, PECO says it has been trying to educate the public about this scam for years. However, the electric company says a new twist has emerged recently.

PECO says businesses have become the target of this scam. Out of the five cases in East Whiteland, two were local businesses.

Another small business in Montgomery County was scammed out of $1,500.

PECO says you should never give your bank information over the phone unless you initiated the call.

The electric company also offers this advice:

  • If someone from PECO calls you, they will know your name, address, account number and amount of your current balance.
  • Never provide anyone with your social security number.
  • Never provide anyone access to your home, unless they have proper identification.
  • PECO workers will have a uniform and badge.
  • Customers who are late on payments will receive several delinquent notices in the mail before their utilities are shut off.
  • Anyone with questions should call 1-800-494-4000.
  • If you believe a scammer has contacted you, report it to police and PECO at 1-800-494-4000.



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