Ga. Power warning of scam

COVINGTON - Georgia Power is warning customers about a scam that could put their personal information and money at risk.

According to a press release issued by the company, a female imposter claiming to be a Georgia Power employee has been calling customers, telling them they have an electric bill past due and must make a credit card payment immediately to avoid having their power shut off in the next 24 hours.

Once customers give their credit card information, the scam artist wires money from their accounts to different locations or uses the number to make fraudulent purchases.

At least 25 victims have been targeted or fallen prey to the scam since early March, according to a Georgia Power spokesman.

According to the press release, Georgia Power employees will never call a customer at home seeking personal information. When a customer is past due on a bill, a recorded message is sent to the customer's home phone asking them to contact Georgia Power.

Field-service representatives will never ask a customer for money when they visit a residence. All Georgia Power company representatives carry badges with picture identification, their name and the company's name and logo.

To view official company uniforms, go to www.georgiapower.com.

Georgia Power's Corporate Security department is working with law enforcement agencies throughout the state to identify the perpetrators. Anyone who has fallen victim to the scheme or has any information about the suspects should contact Corporate Security at 404-506-4116.

In other news, the Better Business Bureau is warning of another scam, this one by mail.

A letter, ostensibly from Experian Consumer Research Group out of New York and bearing the Better Business Bureau logo, invites recipients to become mystery shoppers for a research study on customer service at various stores, restaurants and other establishments.

The letter states the position is "fully paid and would become a part-time position for a selected few who are able to distinguish themselves in the course of this program."

Once "training" is complete, a starting salary of $500 per week is promised.

Evaluation of stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and Sears is requested, along with evaluation of Money Gram wire service. The letter includes a check, the bulk of which is for Money Gram. The scam is to get the victim to deposit the check, then wire a portion through Money Gram or another service, said BBB Spokesman Fred T. Elsberry Jr.

Sometimes the checks are drawn from legitimate, stolen accounts.

It can take the bank up to two or three weeks to determine that the checks are not legitimate, he said, and by then, it's too late.

The BBB logo used in the letter is for accredited businesses to use for online products and is not allowed in print materials, Elsberry said.

"Neither Experian nor the Better Business Bureau are involved," he added.