POWER SCAM: New con offers utility bill payment

COLUMBIA CITY — On the long list of scams that currently exist, a new one is making its way across the United States and has homeowners believing the government is offering assistance to cover utility bills. “We just want to make local people aware of it. It is a scam and they need to pay attention,” said Gene Donaghy, vice president of member services at Northeastern REMC.Since this scam has been on a national level for a few days, Donaghy warns local Northern Indiana residents to be aware.“We’ve already had at least three people that we know of who were scammed in our coverage area,” said Donaghy. “We cover six counties, including Whitley County.”Donaghy said the scammer makes calls, texts, sends emails and sometimes even goes door to door saying Obama is giving $1,000 to everybody to help pay their utility bills. “They claim it is to help people with their bills due to the hot temperatures,” said Donaghy. In this case, Donaghy said the scammer most often asks for Social Security numbers or bank account information, and in return, the victims are given fraudulent bank information to pay their bills online.According to a press release, Attorney General Greg Zoeller said legitimate businesses will not make unsolicited calls, texts or send email messages asking for Social Security numbers or bank account information.