Scam targeting residents of NE Ohio
By Burton Speakman
A scam has been circulating in Northeast Ohio in which callers claim to be from Dominion East Ohio and offer lower gas rates.
Residents of Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties have received calls from someone claiming to be from the company wanting to talk to them about lower rates, said Kate Hanson, public information officer for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
“We don’t want people to interact with these callers,” she said.
Most of the complaints are about people getting calls who are on the “do not call” list, Hanson said. In most cases, those complaining did not engage with the caller or provide any personal information. There even have been multiple calls to one number, she noted. The calls are coming from the 440 and 740 area codes.
A few calls reported in the Cleveland area were a little different, she said.
“In those cases, people were told they needed to pay their bill by sending a prepaid card,” Hanson said. “In one incident, the caller threatened that the person’s utilities would be shut off.”
There have been more than 100 calls from the region to the attorney general’s office about the scam, Hanson said.
“One of the things we know is that if this many people out there have reported the calls, there are a lot more who haven’t,” she said.
Dominion East Ohio has been made aware of the calls and has been working with the attorney general’s office and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to address them, but has not been able to stop the calls, said Neil Durbin, spokesman for Dominion East Ohio.
“The most important thing for customers to remember is that Dominion East Ohio does not engage in telephone solicitation and that we are not responsible for these calls. Customers can always call the company directly if they ever have a question about their bill or their services,” he said.
Dominion East Ohio also has sent a letter to customers to inform them about the calls, Durbin said.
The letter states, “It is important to note that DEO does not engage in telephone solicitation and is not responsible for the calls you are receiving. Further, we wish to provide you with some suggestions that you and others may use to report these harassing calls to the proper authorities.”
The company also reminds people not to give personal information; to ask the person on the phone to identify himself or herself; and, if they have a question about whether the call is legitimate, to hang up and call Dominion at 800-362-7557.
Consumers who suspect a scam can contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.