WILLIAMSVILLE - National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation ("National Fuel" or the "Utility") warns customers of a national scam that promises a new program, often referred to as a "bailout" or "energy credit," offered by the current Federal Administration to 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.
National Fuel reminds customers that its employees carry company identification at all times. Customers should never give out personal information, including social security numbers and banking information, unless they know with certainty with whom they are dealing.
Scammers tell customers that they can register for the utility bill payment program by completing information that includes providing their social security numbers. The scammers then provide customers with bank routings and account numbers to use when paying their utility bills by computer or phone. This type of payment request isn't automatically rejected by utilities, making it appear that the utility accepted payment. After a few days, however, the fraudulent routings and account numbers are discovered and any payments removed from the customers' accounts.
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. In addition, customers' utility bills could go unpaid, leading to late charges and potential disruption of utility service.
Customers are urged to alert police if they're approached about the scam. National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation is the Utility segment of National Fuel Gas Company, a diversified energy holding company that is engaged in a number of natural gas-related activities. The Utility provides natural gas service to approximately 500,000 customers throughout 11 counties in Western New York. Additional information about National Fuel and its customer services is available at www.nationalfuelgas.com or by calling 1-800-365-3234.