COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Columbia Gas of Ohio sent a warning, after some non-customers reached out, concerned about letters and checks they received that appeared to come from the Buckeye-based utility company.
“The first person who reached out to us, they’re from Maryland,” said Amanda DePerro, Communications Specialist with Columbia Gas of Ohio. “And they reached out to us toward the end of September, and they had received an $8,500 check in the mail, claiming to be from Columbia Gas. And then, a few days later, someone from Seattle, Washington reached out and said, ‘I received a check for $3,800.'”
DePerro said the checks also came with letters, instructing the recipients to deposit the checks at their banks, then email back copies of the deposit slips. But in an alert on its website, Columbia Gas of Ohio stated, “These checks are fraudulent, and do not come from us.”
To help get the word out about the new scheme, DePerro contacted Better Call 4, to share some warning signs for customers and non-customers, too.
“If we’re sending you a check in the mail, we’re going to let you know,” DePerro said. “If something comes that is out of the blue, that should be your first red flag.”
The second red flag, DePerro said, appeared in the letter itself.
“The letter was just not professionally written. You can kind of see those errors in the spelling,” DePerro said.
DePerro said Columbia Gas does frequently reach out to its customers. But if you’re ever in doubt about whether the letter, call, email or in-person visit you receive is legitimate, take a step back before you act.
“Don’t jump the gun. Don’t deposit the check,” said DePerro. “If you want to double check, please give us a call, please reach out, and we can verify that person’s identity, or you know, a letter in the mail, we can confirm whether it came from us.”
DePerro said both of those non-customers reached out first and were able to verify the checks were fake. So, they didn’t lose any money or compromise their information.
She also assured that there is no threat to current customers’ information, as long as you don’t respond to this scheme. Again, reach out to the company first with any concerns at 1-800-344-4077, or through social media.