Unfortunately, in today’s world, scams are inevitable. Criminals can threaten you with everything from legal action involving the IRS to turning off power to your home.
Utility scams often involve an individual or group posing as an employee of your electric cooperative. The scammer may use threatening language to frighten you into giving your credit card or bank account information. Don’t fall victim to these types of scams; understand the threats posed and your best course of action.
If someone calls your home or cellphone demanding you pay your electric bill immediately, gather as much information as you can from that individual, end the call and contact the local authorities and your co-op. Scammers often use threats and urgency to pressure you into giving them your bank account number or loading a prepaid credit or debit card.
Your co-op will never ask you to provide personal finance information over the phone. Variations on the scheme are also becoming more common. Rather than making an initial claim that a consumer owes an outstanding balance, some scammers are now claiming an overpayment is the reason for a phone call to a consumer. They make contact in an attempt to get banking information so they can process a refund—but their real intent is to take your money, not give you any.
- If you have any doubts about your utility bill, contact your co-op’s member payment center in person or over the phone.
- If someone comes to your home claiming to be a co-op employee who needs to collect money, inspect parts of your property or sign you up for a new program, call us to verify they are, in fact, an employee. If they’re not, call local authorities for assistance and do not let the individual into your home.
There are other types of scams consumers should watch out for:
Government agencies like the IRS will never call to inform you that you have unpaid taxes or other liens against you. You will always receive this type of information in the mail. If someone calls claiming to be the IRS, immediately end the call.
If you receive an email from an unknown sender, an email riddled with spelling errors and typos, or an email threatening action unless a sum of money is paid, do not click any links provided in the email and do not respond to it. Simply delete the email or send it to your spam folder.
If someone calls your home claiming to have discovered a virus on your computer, end the call. This caller’s intent is to access personal information you may be keeping on your computer.
High-pressure demands are a common tactic in many of the schemes. Urging quick decisions or actions, like immediate payment, particularly by a specific method like a gift card, wire transfer, cellphone or third-party computer app, should raise serious red flags.
Your electric cooperative wants to make sure you avoid any and all types of scams that could put you or your financial information in jeopardy. If you have any questions or would like more information about how you can protect yourself from scammers, contact your co-op.