VA BEACH - Someone's calling businesses in Hampton Roads claiming they haven't paid their power bill and they need the money immediately.
Va. Beach Police say the calls are usually made on Thursday by someone who claims to be with Dominion Power. The person says the money is due Friday and tells business owners to put the money on a Green Dot card (pre-paid) and call back with the card number.
Police have determined those card numbers have been turned in for cash at a Wal-Mart in northern Virginia.
Dominion Power spokeswoman Bonita Harris told WVEC.com these schemes have been running since November 2012 and often target the Hispanic community and local businesses
"Dominion does not call or email customers to obtain confidential information such as a Social Security number or bank account number. It is not normal for Dominion to contact customers “out of the blue” and ask them to divulge personal information," she stated.
She says anyone who gets a call like that should copy the phone number, hang up and report it to police and to Dominion Power. You can call DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Dominion Power says the scheme has been used across the country.
TIPS TO AVOID THE SCHEME:
-Dominion does not call or email customers to obtain confidential information such as a Social Security number or bank account number. It is not normal for Dominion to contact customers “out of the blue” and ask them to divulge personal information.
-Sometimes scam artists try to pressure their victims by claiming power will be shut off if immediate payment is not received. For customers who may have a problem paying their bills, Dominion will work with them to determine a reasonable payment plan, we do not threaten them.
The same kind of precaution applies to face-to-face situations. Customers should never allow anyone into their house or apartment who claims to be a Dominion representative unless they have scheduled an appointment or reported a problem. And, even in those cases, they should ask for proper identification. All Dominion employees carry a company photo ID.