Protect yourself from scams

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May 19, 2020

Be aware! A growing phone scam is targeting electric cooperative members and other utility consumers. 

Phone scammers posing as your electric cooperative call and insist you are delinquent on your bill. The scammer warns that your utility will disconnect electric service if the member fails to make a payment – usually within a short timeframe.

Scammers may have even duplicated the cooperative’s upfront Interactive Voice Response system, so when customers call back phone numbers provided by the scammer, it sounds like a legitimate phone number. Some of these criminals also use caller ID spoofing to replicate your cooperative’s phone number.

Red flags for scam activity

  • The thief becomes angry and tells the member his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected if a large payment isn’t made – usually within less than an hour.
  • The thief instructs the member to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card – widely available at retail stores – then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment.
  • The scammer asks the member for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.

How to protect yourself

Do NOT pay over the phone if immediate payment is demanded to avoid a disconnection. Here is what to do if the call seems suspicious:

  1. Hang up.
  2. Call your electric cooperative at the phone number on your bill or your cooperative’s official website. 
  3. Call the police.