Sheriff: Columbiana County targeted by utility scam - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Many of the calls are being reported by residents of Hanoverton

Sheriff: Columbiana County targeted by utility scam

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LISBON, Ohio -

Scammers pretending to be from a major utility are active once again in the Valley, this time targeting a Columbiana County community.

The Columbiana County Sheriff's Department says it has received reports from people who say they have been getting phone calls from someone who tells them that their account is past due and they need to call 1-866-288-7287.

Many of the calls are being reported by residents of the Hanoverton area according to the sheriff.

When the number is called an Ohio Edison recording comes on, however, the sheriff says it is not Ohio Edison but is actually a scam.

The sheriff advises people to ignore such calls and do not give them any information.

However, the sheriff does recommend that people get the word out to friends, neighbors and especially the elderly that the scam is taking place.

People with concerns about their account are being advised to call the number on their last bill, and not the 866 number from the scammers.

According to the FirstEnergy website, this is a widespread scam.

A telephone caller poses as an electric utility company employee. The caller threatens to shut off the customer’s power unless an immediate payment is made.

In many cases, the customer is told to use a pre-paid debit card, such as a Green Dot/MoneyPak card, or a money transfer service like Money Gram or Western Union. In at least one case, the victim was directed to pay in person at a physical location.

FirstEnergy says it is important for potential victims to know the facts.

If your account is past due, you will receive a written notice of your account status, with instructions on how to avoid disconnection of service.

While a utility representative may call a customer whose bill is in arrears in order to remind them that a payment is due, the representative would explain how a payment can be made using established payment options.

They will not demand payment over the phone or at a particular physical location.

FirstEnergy does not accept prepaid debit cards or wire transfers as payment, and representatives will not demand your bank information or credit card number over the phone.

What should you do:

  • If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately.
  • Be aware that scammers often use Caller ID spoofing software to misrepresent the source of a phone call, or provide you with a fake "verification" phone number. These call-back numbers may even include exact replicas of company greetings and hold messaging. If you would like to verify your account status, always call the FirstEnergy Customer Service department using the numbers on their website, or log in to your account on the Ohio Edison website.
  • If you believe you have been a victim of this scam, please contact your local police department or your state attorney general’s office.
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