Phone scammers targeting the elderly and the cold - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Phone scammers targeting the elderly and the cold

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Officials with both Huntsville Utilities and the Madison County Tax Assessor's Office said if you ever get a call from someone claiming to represent them, hang up and call the office for verification. Officials with both Huntsville Utilities and the Madison County Tax Assessor's Office said if you ever get a call from someone claiming to represent them, hang up and call the office for verification.
MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

The holiday season is causing a proliferation of phone scams across the Tennessee Valley.

Senior citizens who are homeowners are the prime targets in a scam making the rounds in Madison County.

The caller claims to be from the Madison County Tax Assessor's Office and they say they may be able to save the homeowner some money, and they ask to set up a meeting in-person.

Several people aged 62 and older have reported getting this call. The scam artist tells them that since the homeowner is a senior, they may be able to save money on property taxes. They go on to say they can bring a packet of information to the target's home to explain.

They then ask questions about the homeowner's savings accounts and personal information. People with the Better Business Bureau are looking into the scam, and said the call is full of red flags.

"Our concern is that they are trying to set up an appointment in that person's home, and we don't know what would happen once they get there. Maybe they are using the phone call as a means to start asking questions and trying to pry some information from the homeowner that would allow them to either steal an identity or get some money from them," said the BBB's Michele Mason.

Another phone scam targets customers of Huntsville Utilities. The caller in this racket says they represent the utility company and if the customer doesn't pay up, the power will get turned off.

Previous versions of this same scam have targeted Joe Wheeler customers in Hartselle.

Mason said consumer watchdogs believe the scammers are playing on people's fears because it is cold outside.

"This is going on year round, but right now you can see why someone would be really concerned, because the temperatures are so low – you don't want to lose your utilities. It may prompt someone to give out a bank account or some type of information without really thinking about the fact that they need to check this out and see if it's valid," she said.

Officials with both Huntsville Utilities and the Madison County Tax Assessor's Office said if you ever get a call from someone claiming to represent them, hang up and call the office for verification. Also, do not rely on the phone number that shows up on Caller ID – scammers can make it appear that they are calling from a legitimate number.

Copyright 2013 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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