Officials at the City of Oak Ridge are warning its utility customers about a new utility payment scam. The scam has hit several utilities in different states, including Tennessee, with estimates ranging up to 10,000 known cases. Customers have been defrauded of amounts ranging from $100 to
$2,000 dollars.

According to national reports, scammers have called or visited customers in person, posted fliers and
used social media and text messages to publicize the scam. The victims are told that President Obama
has approved special funding through the Federal Reserve Bank for utility bill assistance. Unfortunately
for the customers, there is no such funding.

Targeted customers are given fraudulent bank account and routing numbers to use when paying their
bills, but only after they provide their Social Security number and other personal information. The scam
initially appears to work, as a credit on the customer’s account may actually appear- until the bank
refuses payment. At that point the customer’s partial payment is lost and the bill is often past due.

According to Electrical Director, Jack Suggs, no known cases have occurred in Oak Ridge, but customers
need to be wary. “Scam artists rely on the honesty of most people and their inherent optimism to take
financial advantage. Because of demographic makeup of the City and the geographic spread of this
scam, we expect it to appear here shortly.” The City hopes that by making its customers aware of the
scam early, our customers might avoid these thieves.

Customers who have doubts about the legitimacy of any call, should contact the City Utility Office at 865-