Local business target of Pepco electric bill scam
WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Amid a lot of flying dog hair, the salon manager for Bonnie's Dog and Cat Grooming on Capitol Hill answered the phone Wednesday.
"This time of year is our busiest because everyone wants their dog's hair cut when the weather gets warm," said Bonnie Peregoy.
It was bad news - the power running, the lights, the clippers, and everythign else was about to be shut off.
But Peregoy thought, something was up.
They identified themselves as technicians for Pepco, and said they were calling to verify the address and name of the business because he was going to be there in half an hour to turn off the power for non-payment.
But Peregoy said she was certain her electric bill was paid in full.
Her manager gave her the 1-800 number provided by the caller.
She initiated the call to 1-800-908-6210.
"I think, it is pretty sophisticated, because everything you hear says - don't give any credit card information unless you initiate the call," Peregoy said.
A recording said, "Thank you for calling customer service, please hold while we transfer you to the next available agent."
Was her business about to be in the dark?
Then a man came on and said, "Pepco customer service."
But Peregoy said, her instincts cried scam.
A quick Internet search of the 1-800 number directs one to an e-cigarette business in Los Angeles, Calif. - very obviously in no way affiliated with Pepco.
"They could have taken all of my credit card information, because it would have been the number, the billing address, and the little security code," Peregoy thought.
So, she hung up and called the real Pepco - and confirmed, her bill was indeed paid.
Now, Peregoy is warning others to be wary - the impersonators could have shaved away a lot of money.
"We would have to groom a lot of dogs to make up for it," she said.
Pepco responded to the attempted scam with a statement of caution to customers:
"Pepco reminds home and business owners to practice safety when someone claiming to represent a business calls or shows up in person. Employees from reputable companies, such as Pepco, will carry official company identification cards bearing the corporate logo/symbol.
Also, legitimate Pepco Customer Service Representatives will always be able to provide the name on the account, the account address, and the exact past due balance. If the caller cannot provide that information, it is very likely the call is not from a Pepco employee.
In this case, customers should not provide any type of payment or financial information. They should call Pepco Customer Service immediately at 202–833–7500 and also call local law enforcement to report the incident."