TPD WARNS OF UTILITY PAYMENT SCAM

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It may be a new year, but Thomasville Police Department warns that the same old scams are making the rounds. According to Assistant Chief Eric Hampton, reports have been received by TPD of City of Thomasville Utilities customers receiving calls demanding immediate payment by telephone for utility services.

“These types of calls are not unusual, and they are a fairly common method for scamming unsuspecting people out of money,” said Hampton. “A good rule of thumb is to never, ever provide credit card or other identifying information by telephone.”

Hampton said that the most recent scam involves someone claiming to be a City of Thomasville employee asking businesses and individuals to immediately pay delinquent utility accounts to avoid a disruption in service. “In many cases, the utility customer is not delinquent. We have received one case in which the customer requested a telephone number to call back and was given an 800 number,” Hampton said. “When the customer called the number, they were connected to a voice mail from someone falsely identifying themselves as a City of Thomasville employee.”

City of Thomasville Utilities customers will never be called and asked to provide immediate payment by telephone, said Sheryl Sealy, Director of Marketing and Communications. “We do not call our customers for payment, so any call asking for immediate payment should raise a red flag with our customers,” she said. “In addition, we do not utilize an 800 number for out-going calls and will not leave an 800 number for a return call.”

Should a customer receive a call from someone claiming to be a City of Thomasville employee, Sealy suggests calling the City’s offices to verify the authenticity of the call. “I would encourage any of our customers to call us at 227-7001 and verify their account status,” she said. “We can also verify whether the call received was indeed from someone associated with our organization.”

Hampton said that the calls are being made to both residential and commercial account holders. “The most important step to protecting yourself is to never provide payment to someone who is calling you by phone and to always verify any suspicious telephone call by contacting our Customer Service Department.”

Anyone who has received a telephone call such as these is encouraged to report the call by calling TPD at 226-2101.