Over the past week, the Mid-South has been a target for three separate phone scams, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Scammers have been targeting Memphis Light, Gas, & Water (MLGW) customers by calling restaurants and business owners and telling them utilities will be cut off if past-due accounts are not paid immediately over the phone. Some restaurant owners have reported these calls coming in during rush hours, which has caught some victims off-guard and led to them making payments to scammers over the phone.
In a similar MLGW-related scam, a caller tells victims they can get a discount for paying utilities in advance over the phone. In both scams, the caller asks for payment via prepaid debit cards. MLGW has reported that they will never demand payment over the phone.
In another scam targeting DeSoto County residents, a caller warns residents that they're facing outstanding warrants or fines, threatening arrest if they're not paid immediately with a prepaid debit card or credit card. The DeSoto County Sheriff's Department has posted a statement, which says they do not make calls of that nature, on their website.
Finally, some area Apple iPhone users are being targeted in a texting scam. Victims have been receiving text messages that warn the person's iTunes or Apple ID account has been suspended. The message includes a link that leads to a website that collects personal information, such as an Apple ID, Social Security number, and credit card information. Even local BBB employees have been targets of the Apple ID scam. In the past week, three of them have received such texts. The BBB recommends reporting unsolicited text messages by forwarding the text to SPAM (7726).
The BBB is offering the following tips to avoid falling for these and similar scams:
* Be suspicious of anyone who demands immediate payment for any reason.
* Never give out personal or financial information to anyone who emails, calls or texts you unsolicited.
* Never wire money or provide debit or credit card numbers or prepaid debit card identification numbers to someone you don’t know.
* If you or your business has been targeted by these scam, share as many details as possible on BBB Scam Tracker.