Sam Houston EC News
Don’t Be Fooled
Be alert to the many tricks scammers will use to try to defraud you

IMAGE: AndreyPopov | iStock.com

Electric utility scammers are continually switching up their game (and lies) to try to get your money.

One of the most common tricks scammers now use involves a spoofing app that they use to create a fake caller ID to trick co-op members into thinking a call they are receiving is coming from their co-op or another local number. Your caller ID will show some variation of your electric cooperative’s name or come from a local number, seemingly giving scammers instant credibility.

They will tell members they are late on paying their bill and need to do so in the next couple of hours or their electricity will be disconnected. They then tell the member to head to a local store to purchase a reloadable debit card and call back with the card information. Or they directly ask for credit card or bank account information.

The scammers don’t stop there. Some swindlers encourage members to deliver them cash in person at a meeting spot or come to the member’s front door and claim they need to read their meter for money.

If you receive a call, email or visit from anyone claiming to be a co-op employee and asking you for money, immediately report it to the cooperative—using the co-op phone number you look up yourself. Never call a number given to you by a potential scammer to verify the request for money; giving you a fake number is another common scheme, and the call will be answered by the scammer’s team.

Your co-op will never:

  • Call from an out-of-state number.
  • Have a technician call you to say he or she is coming out to disconnect power.
  • Request a cash payment at your home or business.
  • Threaten a service disconnection on holidays or weekends.

If you experience any of these things, give us a call and let us know so we can warn other members about the scam.

It is unfortunate that we feel obligated to encourage you to be suspicious, but we care about our members, and it’s important to us that our members not be taken advantage of.

Keep these tips in mind to keep your money where it belongs:

 

  • If someone claims to be from your electric cooperative and pressures you for immediate payment or personal information, hang up and call your co-op using a phone number you look up.
  • Never give your Social Security number, credit card number or banking information to any caller, no matter whom they claim to represent.
  • Delete suspicious emails saying you must act immediately to verify or provide personal information. Do not click on any links in these emails.
  • Delete any emails from utilities and companies you don’t have a relationship with.
  • Do not respond to suspicious emails. Responding often results in even more spam and scam attempts.
  • Don’t give in to high-pressure tactics for information over the phone or in person.

TAGS: Safety

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