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Verify Billers Before Giving Your Card Number Over the Phone

Most of us have some type of monthly service that we don’t want to have ended abruptly – like water or electricity, for example. So, if your service provider calls you saying that you’ve missed a payment and need to make one immediately to avoid interruption, you may be eager to give up your bank account or credit card number. But, in an attempt to preserve your good account standing, you could be giving your financial information to a scammer.

Deseret News of Salt Lake City, Utah reports that two area utility service providers have been used as a front for a scam against area residents. The scammers call people pretending to be friendly customer service representatives warning customers of a missed payment and risk of having services disconnected. Scammers warn that to avoid having your service turned off, you’ll have to provide immediate phone payment. Unfortunately, once you give up your account details to the scammer, they can commit various types of credit card or bank account fraud.

In some cases, the scammers have you call another customer service number so you can make payment on your account. Or, the Deseret News reports, they may have you purchase a prepaid card to make payment. With a prepaid card, the fraud is far less traceable. The scam has happened in other towns across the country. So, be on guard

The foolproof way to avoid being victim of a scam is to never give out your personal or financial information to a business that says you owe them money without confirming that you actually owe and that you’re in contact with the correct business.

Don’t take for granted that because your caller ID lists the correct name and phone number for the company that the call is real. Scammers have the ability to spoof a caller ID so that it shows real contact information for a business.

One way to figure out if you’re on the phone with the real business is to ask the customer service representative to confirm your account number. Have a copy of your bill handy so you can confirm that the account number is accurate.

If they say you’ve missed a payment, double-check your records to see whether the payment was successful. You can check this through online banking or your online credit card account.

You can also end the call, look up a legitimate number for the company, for example, from a recent billing statement or through the company’s website, and call back to see if your service provider really called you. If you’ve registered your account online, you can login to check your account balance. You can also pay directly online if you really do have an outstanding balance.

Note that service providers may not necessarily disconnect your service until you’re more than a month past due on your balance. Before that happens, you’ll typically have received prior notice, with your billing statement for example, that your account is behind.

Beware of other forms of this scam including text messages, emails, or even home visits. Remember that you should only use trusted methods of paying your bill and only when you’ve initiated contact with a method you trust, i.e. a phone number or web address that you’ve researched, not one given on the phone or via email.

Source: Deseret News
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Saturday, 11 July 2020

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