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Karl A. Racine
Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia
 

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Attorney General Racine Warns Residents and Businesses of Latest Utility Payment Phone Scam

Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Fraudulent Callers Claiming to Be from Pepco Demand Immediate Payment

Contact:
Rob Marus, Communications Director: 202.724.5646; [email protected]
Marrisa Geller, Public Affairs Specialist: (202) 724-5448; [email protected]


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today alerted District residents and businesses to recent telephone calls by scam artists falsely claiming to be with Pepco and threatening to shut off electric service within hours unless the customer pays supposed past-due bills immediately. The Attorney General warned consumers who receive these calls to either ignore them if they do not, in fact, owe Pepco any money or to contact the utility directly before sending any payments.

The callers may request that the payments be made by prepaid card, money order or wire transfer – making it almost impossible for a resident or business to recover its money after discovering it was scammed. A significant additional concern is that call recipients’ Caller ID may falsely identify these calls as originating from Pepco.

The Attorney General recently entered into settlements with Western Union and MoneyGram to try and reduce the use of wire transfer as a means for scammers to defraud consumers. “Consumers should avoid sending wire transfers, prepaid cards and other non-traditional ways to send payments unless they first confirm that they are sending the payment to someone they can trust,” Attorney General Racine said. “Utilities like Pepco ordinarily don’t demand payment via a wire transfer or prepaid card.”

What to Do if Scammers Call You
These calls appear to be a continuation of a scam that the Office of Attorney General first alerted the public about in July 2015. If you receive a call requesting immediate payment of a utility bill, hang up and call the utility company directly at the telephone number printed on your regular bill. You can reach Pepco Customer Care at 202-833-7500 (Spanish: 202-872-4641) between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Remember, scam artists can use devices that make it appear on caller ID that their calls are coming from the utility company’s telephone numbers.

If you believe you are a victim of this scam, contact the Metropolitan Police Department’s Financial and Cyber Crimes Unit at 202-727-4159 or [email protected].

For additional information, call the Attorney General's Consumer Hotline at 202-442-9828.