BBB in Western VA Issues Consumer Alerts:

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Utility Scam Hits Virginia Residents

Residents of Virginia are being misled into believing they are getting up to $1,000 from the government to pay their cable, gas, and electric utility bills. This scam is providing thieves access to consumer confidential information, and leading the consumers to use non-existent grant funds in their accounts to pay other bills. The fraud puts consumers at risk of identity theft, utility shutoffs, fees for non-sufficient checks, and more.

Scammers Replicate UPS & Verizon Emails

Consumers nationwide are receiving fake emails that are almost identical to the real emails many Verizon and UPS customers receive to remind them of their monthly payments or shipping status.

BBB Serving Western VA has also received calls from consumers stating they received text messages, supposedly from National Bank of Blacksburg, threatening to deactivate accounts if the consumer does not follow the link attached to update information. National Bank of Blacksburg has informed their customers with an alert posted on their website, http://www.nbbank.com/. Many of the recipients who contacted BBB were not customers of the bank.

The Verizon and UPS phishing scams are notable for their painstaking replication of each company’s emails. Only the large Verizon bill amounts (from $45 to almost $2,000) and links to third party websites are tip offs to the real nature of these emails.

You can spot a fake email by hovering over the links and checking whether the URL leads to the company’s website or, in a scam email, to a third party site.

Consumers Say Collectors Hounded Them for Bogus Hollywood Video Late Fees

A number of former customers of Hollywood Video stores in the coverage area of BBB Serving Western VA are among hundreds of consumers nationwide who say they have been contacted by debt collectors claiming they still owe the defunct business for overdue rentals.

Over a dozen consumers from the BBB Serving Western VA area have filed complaints in recent months against Universal Fidelity of Houston, Texas. The company is working on behalf of the bankruptcy trustee for Movie Gallery, owner of the closed Hollywood Video chain, trying to collect what the trustee believes may be millions of dollars in unpaid bills.

For more information, please visit www.vawest.bbb.org