10:30 PM EDT, May 9, 2012
If you hear President Barack Obama will help you pay your utility bills, t's not true. The Better Business Bureau is warning people about this scam reported in five states.
The scammers are targeting Entergy customers in our area. Entergy says scammers are handing out flyers using social media and texts to tell people the President will provide a credit or directly pay their bill.
One viewer tells WGNO people in her neighborhood are passing around a bank’s routing number (061000146) and stating that President Obama is paying Entergy bills for up to $600 dollars and to contact Entergy and pay your bill through “Bill Matrix”. The scammers then try to get customers to give up personal information.
Entergy says they are receiving numerous inquiries. They say the company has taken action to protect those customers, interrupt the scammers’ processes and limit the spread to others.
The scam calls for customers to make a payment “today” by using a bank routing number supplied by the scammers, and the number appearing on the back of their Social Security cards as the bank account number.
Payments made by Entergy New Orleans customers using the scammers’ method will not process correctly and the money will not be applied to their bills. Customers will still owe the amount shown on their bills for the utility services they have used.
“It is unfortunate that unscrupulous persons would plan such an activity that could harm our customers. But we are watching out for their welfare and have taken action to protect them from this scam,” said Melonie Hall, director of customer service.
Customers that already used or are trying to use this bogus payment method could still be affected. But company representatives are identifying accounts where payments have been made using the scammers’ method, and are calling customers to notify them that balances are still due. Those accounts will be corrected to remove the effects of the scam.
“We remind customers to not give their personal information to strangers,” said Hall, “and they should not try to use this bogus payment method by substituting another account or bank routing number.
Customers should use only authorized methods and legitimate banking information to pay their bills.
Customers who believe they are a victim of this scam can notify the proper authorities, such as the local police, the state attorney general’s office, the Better Business Bureau or other agencies. If they believe their Entergy New Orleans account has been affected, they should call 1 800 ENTERGY (1 800 368 3749) to speak with a customer service representative.
Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta has been in contact with local, state and federal authorities about two utility scams being perpetrated against consumers.
"In speaking with the FBI about these issues, I am assured that law enforcement authorities are giving these crimes their best attention," Skrmetta said. "In the meantime, consumers need to be aware of these scams and not fall prey to con artists. Customers can also help police stop these criminals by turning the tables, getting as much information as possible without releasing any in return and then sharing that information with police and with my office. Information such as a number on caller ID, the name of the fake customer service representative, and even the times of day when such emails, calls or texts arrive, can be helpful in this investigation. If someone comes to your door to collect payment, do not let them in. Get a description and call police immediately. No reputable utility provider collects payments in this way."
Bill Matrix (now Fiserv, Inc.) says “We are providing assistance to our customers and clients to resolve any reported issues.”
Bill Matrix onsumers should report any suspected scam to:
1. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
2. Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force
3. Federal Trade Commission
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