Officials warn about possible scamsPublished 3:09pm Wednesday, October 16, 2013
This past week, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange warned residents about recurring scams in which consumers are asked to send money to either pay a supposed debt or as a fee to receive prizes or merchandise.
According to Strange, there have been reports in recent days from the Huntsville and Birmingham areas of people receiving fraudulent calls threatening that their power was about to be disconnected if they did not immediately pay by providing credit card information or by purchasing and sending a disposable debit card.
In response to this, Strange said the actual electrical utilities issued public warnings urging consumers not to provide information or payments, but to contact the company directly.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division periodically receives inquiries and complaints about similar scams, with scammers often claiming to represent utilities companies that provide electricity, natural gas, telephone or cable service.
“These scams use fear and intimidation to trick people into thinking they owe money and to send payments quickly or they may lose an essential or highly-valued service,” Strange said.
“I urge Alabamians to be suspicious of any such calls and to not be frightened into sending money they may not owe and which may be impossible to recover.”
Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing said scams like this have also occurred locally in the past.
“If you get a phone call and there is any kind of strange situation involved, try to directly contact the organization or company the person claims to represent to see if the information is correct,” Rushing said.
“And if they insist on having cash wired to them or if they ask for credit card numbers or bank account numbers, don’t give it to them.
“When it comes to scams, there are no real rules to protect against it because every scam is different. The best advice is just to check out any situation the best you can.
“Ask for the person’s name who is calling and tell them you’ll call them back at the place they claim to be calling from, and if they’re really there, that shouldn’t be a problem. But if they panic and tell you not to do that, it’s probably not the person they’re claiming to be.”
Rushing said the Federal Trade Commission offers free information on how to protect against scams for anyone who is looking to better educate themselves on the subject.
The information can be found at www.fct.gov/bcp or by calling 1-800-535-3232.
Consumers may also contact Attorney General Strange’s Consumer Protection Section by calling toll-free 1-800-392-5658 or through the website at http://ago.alabama.gov/Page-Consumer-Protection.