Threatened gas shutoff aims to scare clients - Albuquerque Journal

Threatened gas shutoff aims to scare clients

Don’t interrupt your dinner to respond to this phone call.

New Mexico Gas Co. says someone is contacting customers to tell them they must make a payment or face a cutoff in their service. And they have to do it within 30 minutes.

In many cases, the scammers are using an ID that looks like the call really does come from the company, a spokesman said.

While there are times when the gas company will call a customer about an overdue bill, “our employees do not threaten disconnection on such a short timeline,” the company says.

It says customers who receive such a call should hang up and call 1-888-664-2726 to determine whether the company is trying to reach you. “If you are actually behind on your bill, we will inform you and work with you on payments,” a Gas Co. news release says.

Another thing for the “don’t do” list: small businesses are instructed to ignore invoices demanding that they buy posters to supposedly comply with federal and state labor laws.

The invoice comes by letter or email, with some versions also warning of a penalty for not displaying the posters, according to the Better Business Bureau.

The bureau recounted one small-business owner’s experience in receiving a letter demanding a $79.25 “document fee” for the posters to comply with labor laws. If the fee wasn’t paid immediately, the letter said, there would be a $7,000 fine.

“Scammers hope you will pay up without further research because their story is only partially true,” the BBB says.

The true part is that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does require all covered employees to display a poster telling workers what their rights are. The untrue part is that you don’t have to buy the posters. Electronic versions are free on OSHA’s website, as are all other Department of Labor notifications.

The BBB advises, as a general rule, finding out whether the company that made contact with you is legitimate before paying any invoices or sending any money for an unsolicited service.

“Look for an official business address and phone number, and look over their website,” the BBB says. “Never pay an invoice without double checking that it’s for a service you authorized.”

The fourth round of advance child tax credit payments is going out this month and the Internal Revenue Service is warning families to be aware that scammers might try to “use these payments as bait.”

The IRS says to watch for bad actors who contact you by phone, email, text or social media to verify your information so you can supposedly start getting the payments.

Eligible families started receiving up to $300 per child in July and stories of attempted fraud started rolling in soon after.

The IRS says the payments are made automatically, based on information the agency already has from 2019 or 2020 tax returns. There are no additional steps people need to take to receive the money.

Remember, the IRS does not leave “pre-recorded, urgent or threatening messages. For example, if you get a voicemail saying a warrant will be issued for your arrest, this is not the IRS,” the agency says.

If you’re not required to file a tax return and haven’t given the IRS your information for the child tax credit payments, go to IRS.gov to provide the basic information needed to qualify.

Contact Ellen Marks at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-888-255-9210 or file a complaint at www.nmag.gov/file-a-complaint.aspx.

 

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