BROWNSVILLE, TX — The Brownsville Public Utilities Board (BPUB) warns utility customers of a theft scam involving unsolicited phone calls in which callers claiming to work for BPUB pressure victims by saying they are at risk of having services disconnected because of an unpaid utility bill.
According to reports, a person posing as a BPUB employee tells the customer that services will be disconnected unless a specified amount is paid toward the account. The customer is directed to purchase a pre-paid money card and then call back with the card details. BPUB customers were warned about this type of activity last year. While this latest round of reports has mainly come from businesses, residential accounts have been targeted in the past, and all BPUB customers should stay alert when receiving calls of this type.
Last year and in 2012, customers across the nation were also targeted by identity thieves who instructed customers to provide personal information to a fake bank routing number to pay their utility bills. The victims were led to believe their utility bills would be paid through a federal program if they used this routing number and put their Social Security number as the bank account number.
Utility customers can avoid being victimized if they:
- Refrain from providing Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or bank account information to anyone who requests it during an unsolicited call or in-home visit.
- Avoid being pressured by a caller over the telephone to make a payment other than to a BPUB cashier, on the BPUB website or at a registered pay station.
- Verify calls claiming to represent the local utility company. To verify BPUB collection calls, please call (956) 983-6121.
- Avoid allowing anyone into their homes to check electrical wiring or water pipes unless an appointment has been scheduled or a utility problem has been reported.
- Ask utility employees to provide legitimate proper photo identification or call BPUB to verify employment.
Unsolicited requests for payments, personal information and bank routing numbers should be reported immediately to the Brownsville Police Department at (956) 548-7000 or by visiting the nearest community police station.