Scam alert: Beware of scam phone calls

MIAMI VALLEY — Area residents are reporting scam artists calling their cell phone and land lines from people posing as representatives of Microsoft, DP&L and law enforcement agencies.

The Microsoft scam involves people with foreign as well American accents claiming that there is an issue with your home computer that needs to be fixed. The caller will ask you for your computer’s IP Address. If you don’t know how to find it, the caller will walk you through the steps to locate it in your computer system. You will then be asked to log into a website that will give the caller remote access to your computer. Once the caller logs into your computer the trouble begins.

A Northmont resident fell for the scam and later discovered his credit card accounts had been hacked and his bank account drained.

Microsoft does not monitor individual user’s computer systems nor would the company ever contact you by phone to fix any alleged problem with your computer. If you receive such a call, hang up immediately.

A second scam involves people calling and posing as representatives of DP&L. They will tell you that your account is delinquent and that unless you immediately pay the past due balance your electric service will be disconnected that day.

According to DP&L common scams involve:

1. Callers asking customers to send a pre-paid debit card to pay their bill or to replace dangerous equipment.

2. Callers threatening disconnection if payment is not received immediately.

3. Callers targeting small businesses during peak business hours, such as restaurants at lunch time. The scammers try to catch employees off guard to gain account information, and to instill fear that power will be turned off.

4. A caller claiming DP&L has reviewed their account and they qualify for discounts, or they’re calling about a notice on their recent bill.

DP&L does not call customers demanding money immediately. Hang up if you receive such a call. In all cases, the scammers are trying to defraud customers. They often target elderly people and small businesses that are fearful their electricity may be turned off unless they comply immediately. These scammers usually have a little bit of information about you and will try to persuade you to provide more so they can gain access to your bank accounts and/or use your credit card numbers.

Scams may use email, social media, phone calls or even door-to-door visits. Many victims received forwarded emails or text messages from well-meaning friends and family who were also victimized.

DP&L reminds customers not to provide personal information or comply with requests for payments unless they are confident with whom they are speaking. Before you do anything, hang up and call DP&L at 800-433-8500 to ask questions about anyone contacting you about your bill or claiming to be from the utility.

Please be aware that this is an industry wide problem that has affected many utilities across the country. DP&L is working with authorities to stop this unauthorized activity.

Lastly, some people are reporting receiving a phone call informing them that a warrant has been issued for their arrest with instructions to call a specific number in order to avoid being arrested. If you call the number provided you will either be asked to make a payment over the phone via credit card to delay being taken into custody or to resolve the warrant altogether or they will request your bank account information.

No law enforcement agency would ever call to tell you that you have a warrant. They would simply track you down and take you into custody.

By Ron Nunnari

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Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email [email protected] or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind