For Release: 07/17/2012
Waukegan, IL - North Shore Gas is warning customers about a scam spreading across the country which promises a new program, authorized by President Obama's administration, will pay utility bills for customers. The scammers use a variety of methods to contact unsuspecting customers including phone calls, emails, and even door-to-door visits as they attempt to obtain personal information.
North Shore Gas reminds customers never to give out personal information including social security numbers and banking information unless they know with certainty who they are dealing with.
In the scam, victims are told they can "register" for the utility bill payment by providing social security numbers and banking information. Customers are then given a bank routing and account number to use when they pay their utility bill by computer or phone. The payment request isn't automatically rejected by the utility company, so it could appear that the payment was accepted. After a few days, however, the fraudulent routing and account number are discovered and the payment removed from the customer's account.
The danger to customers is twofold. Divulging personal information including social security numbers could lead to identity theft and a host of problems as the scammers open fraudulent bank or credit card accounts using the information. Additionally, customers' utility bills could go unpaid, leading to late charges and potential disruption of utility service.
Other organizations including Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and the Chicago and Northern Illinois Better Business Bureau are also warning consumers regarding this scam.
Any customer approached for this kind of personal information, or who believe they may be a victim of a scam, should report the incident to their local police.
About North Shore Gas
North Shore Gas, a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group, Inc. (NYSE: TEG), is a regulated natural gas delivery company that serves approximately 158,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers located in 54 communities within the northern suburbs of Chicago. For more information about North Shore Gas visit the company's website: www.northshoregasdelivery.com.