May 20, 2015 Fairmont Police Department
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PUBLIC UTILITIES – FRAUDULENT DEMANDS FOR PAYMENT
The Fairmont Police Department has recently received several complaints from area businesses that received fraudulent calls from a person claiming to represent the City of Fairmont Utilities. The caller sounds official and tells the business they have not paid their City of Fairmont utility bill. The business is told that City workers will be coming to shut off the power that same day unless immediate payment is made. This fraud has been focused primarily on Fairmont area businesses but area residents could also receive similar calls.
The caller states that the business must send immediate payment via pre-paid credit cards to avoid shutting the power off. The fraudsters have recommended using Hy-Vee of Fairmont but they may also direct the caller to other area businesses such as Walmart or Walgreens that offer such legitimate services as pre-paid Visa cards or wire transfers of money (TransUnion or Moneygram). Once you wire transfer money or provide the numbers related to pre-paid credit cards the money is gone and you cannot request it back.
If the business states they have paid their utility bill the caller may ask for a copy of the payment check in an attempt to gather the routing and account numbers. If this information is provided the fraudster can then compromise the account and make fraudulent charges against it.
The caller has provided accurate utility account information and has used caller-ID spoofing that makes the calling number to appear to be from the “City of Fairmont” or “(507) 238-9461.” Spoofing caller ID is not complicated but it gives the caller the appearance of being legitimate. The caller will also provide a different number to call back than what the caller ID shows which can be an indicator of the call being fraudulent.
If you receive a call as described above simply hang up and do not engage in sharing any of your personal or financial information. The City of Fairmont does not call requesting any payment via prepaid Visa cards or wire transfers. Any concerns area residents do have after receiving such a call can be addressed by calling the Fairmont City Hall directly at (507) 238-9461 to verify your account is in good standing.
Do not provide personal or financial information to an unsolicited caller. If you have provided any financial or personal information in response to an unsolicited call or email contact that financial institution immediately. Never call back a number provided by a suspicious caller, message, text, or email. Use the contact information provided on the back of your credit card or listed in an area phone book to verify if a concern is real or not. Don’t be bullied by a caller, simply hang up. Take the time to pause and think before you act.