02 Oct 10 tips for avoiding utility bill phone scams
Utility bill scammers and other cheats have been hard at work in the Duck River EMC service area. The latest con game has targeted rural stores and businesses and involves a telephone caller threatening to disconnect electric service for an unpaid bill. Thankfully, awareness of these scams is growing, and fewer people are being fooled.
DREMC offers the following advice for detecting and avoiding phone scams:
1. Be wary of anyone trying to sell you something or extract information over the telephone if their call was unsolicited.
2.Pressure tactics or threats are a sure tipoff of a scam.
3. A call demanding payment with the immediate threat of electric service termination should make you suspicious. DREMC does not collect past-due electric bills or give notice of power cutoffs in this manner.
4. If you have caller ID, look at the incoming area code but don’t be confident it is real. The call might be from a “spoofed” number, impossible to trace back, or an “out of area” call. Some scam calls originate overseas.
5. The prefix “850” has been used by scammers recently. This is an area code for the Florida Panhandle, where law enforcement officials have launched investigations of fraudulent callers.
6. Do not give suspicious callers any personal or financial information, including social security number, birth date, credit/debit card number, passwords, banking account numbers, etc. Identity theft is a danger when dealing with unknown callers.
7. Don’t be fooled when a caller asks you to dial another number and gives you the name of someone with whom to talk. They’re playing “good cop, bad cop” to make their intended victims more vulnerable.
8. Email scams are on the rise. Do not click links in unsolicited messages. You could infect your computer and risk having stored information stolen.
9. Phone scammers aren’t the only ones to guard against. During power outages, scammers can appear on people’s doorsteps with the offer to turn the lights back on for a fee. A real utility would never do this.
10. DREMC does not ask members with delinquent electric bills to purchase prepaid debit cards for payment purposes. Your co-op offers a variety of ways for members to pay easily and securely. Go online to www.dremc.com or call your local office for information about payment options.
Report utility bill scam attempts to DREMC, but also contact your local police or sheriff’s department.