WJTV News Channel 12 - Lakeland Electric warns customers about phone payment scam

Lakeland Electric warns customers about phone payment scam

Posted: Updated:
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

Lakeland Electric customers should beware of a current scam that involves an individual who calls and acts as if he is a representative of Lakeland Electric. The scammers ultimately demand that a business provide some type of electronic payment over the phone in order to avoid a disruption in their service.

The caller does have a sophisticated piece of equipment that alters the caller ID. The calls look as if they are coming from (863) 834-9535 but the calls are actually coming from (305) 514-9961.

In all three of the known scam cases that have been reported, the caller had the victim's business account number.

Sergeant Terri Smith with the Lakeland Police Department said, “The most concerning thing about these recent scams is the use of a City of Lakeland telephone number even though it is a false number. This may confuse some of our elderly and make them more vulnerable to these scams.” Smith said, "There are many ways that City of Lakeland account numbers can be obtained by scammers: by request because account names and numbers are considered public information; through mail theft; and by going through garbage and culling out discarded bills."

Basic Tips to Avoid Scams

DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON—follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts. Make sure you meet people in a public and secure place, such as your local police department lobby.

NEVER AGREE TO PURCHASE GIFT CARDS, GREEN DOT CARD, OR MONEY PACK CARDS and give the card numbers to someone over the telephone.

NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or other wire service – if a business or unknown person asks then they are likely a scammers.

FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON—BANKS WILL HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later. Contact your bank and work with them to establish whether or not a money order or check is fraudulent before you spend it or give anyone property in return for it.

NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.). If you get a call from your bank asking for anything like this, hang up and call your bank independently to verify information.

Lakeland Electric would never call a customer and demand a bankcard, prepaid credit card or even a retail card such as a prepaid Wal-Mart, Walgreens or CVS card. Lakeland Electric customers are encouraged to sign up for eServices by visiting www.lakelandelectric.comhttp://www.lakelandelectric.com" title=""">. Through eServices, customers can monitor their energy usage, receive text notifications and pay their utility bill via a secure network connection. Customers are encouraged to call a real representative at Lakeland Electric (863-834-9535) if they have been involved in a possible scam by someone claiming to be a Lakeland Electric employee.


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