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Homeowners Beware: There’s a New Scam to Avoid

March 30, 2017

Some people will try anything to take advantage of others and steal their money, or their identity. Many of us already know about the IRS phone scam, where you get a call about owing taxes. Then there is the Microsoft Windows phone scam; the person calling claims they are trying to help you fix your “Windows computer”.

Take it from those that know, the IRS doesn’t call people directly-they send notifications by mail. And Microsoft doesn’t make computers-they make software programs. Now there is a new phone scam gaining momentum to be aware about. This time, the scam is geared around utility services. As recently reported by Forbes, there is a growing concern of people being swindled out their hard-earned cash through phone scams claiming to be from electric or gas companies. These callers are using scare tactics, threatening to turn off power or heat unless a bill is paid right away.

Like the IRS, most utility companies will not call customers regarding payment issues. They send notices via the mail. If you do get a call from someone claiming to be from your utility service provider, there are steps you can take to determine if they are legitimate.

talking-560318_640First, listen carefully to what the caller is saying. There have been reports of scammers claiming to be from General Electric, a company which is not a service provider at all! If you recognize the name of the company being used, but the call itself is unexpected (such as you just paid your bill the other day and know it is current), ask for employee information and a phone number to call them back. Chances are they will hang up if it’s a scam. Better yet, call your utility provider directly and speak to someone directly who can confirm your account status, and you can give the company the heads-up towards the scamming activity.

Other red flags that point towards a phone scam include attempts to get you purchase a prepaid debit card to make a payment, or to do so via wire transfer. If the caller asks for you to provide personal information, this is another big warning sign. Remember, when you call your utility provider, they ask you to confirm your identity with key pieces of information, which they have in your file, such as your house number or the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. A phone scammer will ask for your entire Social Security Number or specific bank account information.

money-256314_640In our fast paced, digital world, it is easy to get distracted, and scammers know this. They know people often succumb to threats or pressure. When you are aware of potential scams, you can stop them in their tracks, and protect yourself, your home, and your family. When you are ready to sell your property, you want a Realtor® who is passionate about the community, and passionate about helping their clients. My team and I are ready to help you from start to finish. Our goal is to make your experience both easy and pleasurable. Contact us today at (925) 634-7820, or by email at realestate@cecily.com.

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