BALTIMORE, Md. - We all feel the pain brought every month by paying those hefty utility bills, so if someone offered to cover yours, it would be a tempting offer. Karen Straughn, Assistant Maryland Attorney General understands why, "It's a chance to have some sort of bill taken care of and in this economy anybody is looking for help they can get, so they are willing to take a chance unfortunately."
Straughn says people are taking a chance on a scam. The Maryland Attorney General's office has been fielding calls from people who say they've been called, emailed or contacted in person by someone offering to pay their utility bills through a new government grant from the Obama administration.
According to Straughn says the scheme has worked in other states and it's now being tried here. She explains, "People in some cases are paying money to have this done, in other cases providing their bank account information and their social security information in order to get this supposed grant, which is not real."
Instead, this scheme is just another way to get your money or personal information. And you could end up the victim of identity theft if you sign up. The Attorney General's office says many people are hearing about this from friends and family. But at this point, there is no Obama grant to cover your utilities.
This scam not only costs some cash and their identities. Straughn says it can also result in late fees and utility shutoffs because victims believed their bills were already paid and they didn't pay them. If this happens to you, the Attorney General's office says you should let your utility company know you've been victimized in this scam and ask them to work with you to settle your bill properly.