BEWARE OF UTILITY SCAMS
Scammers call threatening to disconnect your utility service, demanding immediate payment by prepaid cards purchased at a local retail store, and insist you call them back with the card information to make payment. They often use caller ID spoofing, and their call-back numbers may even include recorded replicas of utility company greetings. Know the signs. #StopScams
Know What To Do - Scams
Scammers are creative, tenacious, and willing to invest their time for the potential payout. They might call hundreds of phone numbers to get one hit, netting them hundreds or even thousands of dollars. New capabilities for spoofing, or disguising, caller identification (ID) can make the phone number you see on your caller ID appear to be your utility company's. Spoofing makes it easier for scammers to deceive you, and makes it more difficult for you to immediately verify the call. If you are not 100% sure it’s an actual representative from your utility calling, hang up and call your utility back at the number listed on your monthly statement.
Most Common Utility Scams
Scammers call threatening disconnection of your electric service, demanding immediate payment by prepaid cards purchased at a local retail store (or credit card, debit card, bank draft, wiring money, etc.), and insisting you call them back with the card information to make payment.
Tip: Your local electric co-op will send you one or more disconnection notices in the mail if your payment is past due, and they will offer several payment options without specifying the type of payment you need to make.
Scammers call claiming you have overpaid your utility bill, and you need to provide personal bank account information or a credit card number to facilitate a refund.
Tip: Your electric co-op may apply any overpayments you have made to your utility account, allowing the credit balance to cover any future charges, or refund any overpayment by mailing a check.
Smishing, short for SMS phishing, is a relatively new scam that attempts to trick mobile phone users into giving scammers personal information, which can be used for identity theft, via a text or SMS message. Scammers like smishing, as consumers tend to be more inclined to trust text messages.
Tip: Utility companies typically do not text you unless you have signed up for a specific notification service offered by your utility.
Scammers send suspicious emails that appear to be a bill sent by your local electric co-op, potentially featuring the co-op’s logo and color scheme.
Tip: Do not click on any links or attachments in any email unless you have verified the sender. You may be directed to a scam website designed to steal your personal information, or you might install malicious software onto your computer without ever knowing it. Your local electric co-op typically sends bills by mail, unless you have opted to receive your bill by email.
Source: Consumer’s Guide to Imposter Utility Scams available at https://www.utilitiesunited.org/