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Officials warn of scams

National Consumer Protection Week underway

With this being National Consumer Protection Week, people should be aware of various scams in which the scam artists try to separate people from their hard-earned money.

One of the more common ones is someone pretending to be from a utility company and demanding immediate payment or the utility will be cut off. While that may be a possibility, most utility companies send letters notifying their customers.

“We take the safety and security of our customers very seriously, whether it’s in person, over the phone or online,” said Dan Creekmur, president of Columbia Gas of Ohio. “When it comes to utility scams, we encourage all of our customers to familiarize themselves with some common fraudulent practices to avoid any type of financial loss.”

Columbia Gas said that all their employees and contractors carry photo ID badges and their vehicles are clearly marked.

The company also said that employees do not collect cash payments and all account transactions are handled electronically or through the mail. The company also never asks for pre-paid debit cards as payment. Scam artists prefer pre-paid debit cards because they are hard to track.

Columbia Gas only asks for a Social Security number when a customer is applying for new service. So they advise, as with all potential scams, to never give personal information, including Social Security numbers and banking information, to unconfirmed sources.

For the latest in scams going around the state, Ohio Attorney General David Yost has a web page that lists various scams, from the latest tech scam to the older “grandchild in need of immediate cash” scam.

Go to www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/scams to see the list.

If you think you are the victim of a scam, report it to your local police agency, bank or credit card company. You can report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by going to their website at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/About-AG/Contact/Report-A-Scam