Warnings issued about new scams in East Texas

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Scammers never sleep; it deprives them of opportunities to cheat people. Don’t get fooled by these new schemes.

• If you’re a customer of SWEPCO, beware of this one. A caller claims to be from the SWEPCO Disconnect Department. The caller claims you owe money to SWEPCO and unless you pay up immediately, your power will be disconnected. They tell you to purchase a debit or cash card to pay the bill. Don’t fall for it. SWEPCO does not call customers to demand immediate payment. SWEPCO will not ask customers to purchase a debit/cash card to pay a bill. Think you’re being scammed? Call SWEPCO’s 24/7 Customer Solutions Center at 1-888-216-3523.

• Someone threatens to suspend or cancel your Social Security number. This is another attempt by con artists to frighten taxpayers into returning robocalls. Scammers may mention overdue taxes in addition to threatening to cancel the taxpayer’s SSN.

• Another scheme involves a letter threatening an IRS lien or levy. The scammer mails the letter to a taxpayer. The lien or levy is based on bogus overdue taxes owed to a non-existent agency called the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement.” There is no such agency. The scheme may also reference the IRS to hoodwink people into thinking the letter is legitimate.

• Here’s one that targets grandparents. You get a call from an impostor posing as your grandchild, who’s been injured or is in big trouble. The “grandchild” wants you to wire thousands of dollars for posting bail, fixing a truck or paying a lawyer or hospital. They plead that you not call their parents. To succeed, emergency scams need an emotional reaction. Send no money. Ask for a number to call back. Take time to check things out.

• The reputation of the online retailer known FreshChristian is wilting fast. FreshChristian is an online purveyor of Christian-themed jewelry. Customers have reported to the BBB not receiving the products they paid for or receiving only partial orders. Some people did receive their items after complaining to the BBB, but 28 complaints remain unanswered last week. FreshChristian has an “F” rating with BBB.

• Summer festivals have become fertile ground for ticket scammers, who target festival-goers by selling tickets for non-existent events or festivities that fall far short of expectations. Do your homework on these festivals, and the ticket-sellers, too. Some will produce realistic tickets and fake receipts.

Sources: BBB East Texas, IRS & SWEPCO.

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