Consumers Energy Warns About Prepaid Credit Card Phone Scam
Consumers Energy is warning people about a scam that tries to get people to pay for their utility bills over the phone using a prepaid credit card. Consumers Energy has received almost 1,000 complaints regarding this scam with a total of 46 people making "payments" to the tune of $58,000.
Callers threaten to shut off service if immediate payment for residential or commercial services is not made on accounts using a Green Dot or other prepaid credit card.
Consumers Energy wants people to know that they never demand payment using only pre-paid credit cards and urge customers to never be coerced into paying an energy bill over the phone. They also warn customers not to give out personal information to people they don't know.
If you think you have been a victim of this scam, contact your local law enforcement.
For more information on elder abuse, including financial abuse, and how to prevent it, visit www.protectkentseniors.org
New Senior Scam
A new senior scam involves a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Kent County Probate Court claiming they are going to be in the area and want to stop by to talk about preparing a Will. The Kent County Probate Court is warning residents that they never send people out to do Wills or to conduct any type of investigation without a court order.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the Kent County Probate Court with the scam above, please hang up immediately and contact your local law enforcement to report the incident.
As a reminder, never give out any personal information such a social security numbers, Medicare/Medicaid details, or financial accounts over the phone to someone unless you initiated the phone call.
For more on the latest senior scams and to learn more about how to protect yourself from elder abuse, visit the Kent County Elder Abuse Coalition. And remember elder abuse can be financial, physical, sexual, or psychological.
Elder Abuse Coalition Warns of New Scam
Phony DTE workers are going door to door promising energy assistance funding if the homeowner would just provide some personal information including social security numbers. DTE is not sending employees into the community offering such assistance. To read more, please refer to the Kent County Elder Abuse Coalition website at - http://www.protectkentseniors.org/recent-scams#s10
Snowflakes, Seniors and Scams
Around the winter months, like all of us, seniors may be more susceptible to scams that prey on persons needing to stay warm or to protect their health during frigid weather. However, during this time older adults can increase their knowledge about how to avoid being taken advantage of and ensure a safe and warm winter season.
Tips for seniors to avoid scams:
- Always ask for information in writing and read documents carefully before signing. When asked to sign a contract, consider taking the document home and read it without stress. If comfortable with the terms and conditions, return the next day with it signed.
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. During the winter months many places offer great bargains on items to keep warm and healthy. Unless it is a reputable, familiar business, stay away from deals that are “too good to pass up” and always read the fine print.
- Protect yourself and your medical and financial information. Do not disclose this information over the phone. This has long been a popular tool used by con artists to gain access to personal information. Financial and medical institutions do not ask for this information over the phone.
- Do your research before working with a new organization or individual. Many community resources exist to help seniors advocate for themselves. Contact your local Agency on Aging, the Better Business Bureau, legal assistance programs or family and friends you trust for more information on an organization. If something makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it.
For other ways to combat fraud and abuse, visit the Senior Advocacy in Action Alert and contact your state Representative about pending legislation.
Beware of Census Scams
The U.S. Census Bureau uses a workforce of trained federal employees to conduct the U.S. Census survey; however, the Census Bureau cannot stop or warn against all bogus or false collections of data. Here are some tips issued by the state of Michiganís Intelligence Operations Center to help protect your personal information.
- Do not give out your full social security number, bank account number, credit card number, usernames or passwords.
- Do not respond to the U.S. Census via the internet.
- The U.S. Census will not send you an e-mail regarding participating in the Census.
- The U.S. Census will not ask for donations.
- The U.S. Census will not send requests on behalf of a political party.
- If a U.S. Census worker comes to your home, ask to see a valid ID badge.
If you receive a U.S. Census e-mail and suspect it may be bogus, do not reply or click on any link or open attachments. Forward the e-mail to ITSO.Fraud.Reporting@census.gov then delete the e-mail.
Please feel free to share this information with family and friends to assist them with determining the validity of Census requests.
Information from the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging
For more information on the U.S. Census in Michigan, visit, www.michigan.gov/census2010