01 Sep DREMC member avoids becoming a scam victim
Utility bill scammers continue to work in Duck River EMC’s service territory. One of the latest attempts targeted a convenience store in Maury County where the owner was threatened with electricity disconnection if he did not make a draft payment by telephone.
Fortunately, he alerted DREMC’s Columbia district office and checked on the status of his account, which was current. The scammer’s attempt to portray himself as working for a call center and the fact that the call originated from a suspicious area code was enough to convince the co-op member that something was odd.
These scams try to convince victims to share personal identity information or make payments by phone on spurious electric bills. They might try to convince someone to go out and purchase a pre-loaded debit card to use for the payment. The threat of immediate disconnection is used to intimidate and confuse potential victims. The scammers hope they won’t check with their local utility.
One clue that it is a fraud attempt comes from the scammer’s assurance that the DREMC billing department is open at nights or on weekends. This is not the case. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Only the dispatch center and emergency operations crews work on weekends. Another tipoff is that the caller might ask for a DREMC account number. DREMC issues your account number and has a record of it, so would not ask you to provide it.
The threat to terminate service frequently is made by someone who identifies himself as a “technician” who has a “work order.” This is not the protocol or system used by DREMC for collecting past-due electric bills.
Finally, the scammers might provide a toll-free number to call. The 844-prefix has been connected to scam attempts and is a reason to very suspicious. Scam calls can originate from anywhere in the country or overseas.
Do not share personal information with anyone who calls purporting to represent DREMC. The co-op maintains your account information under very high levels of security. This data can be accessed only by authorized personnel. We have no need to call and ask you to provide account information or personal information, especially on weekends when all district offices and the DREMC headquarters are closed.
Do not pay any amount for a past-due bill over the telephone unless you confirm with your local DREMC office the correct amount owed. Do not share personal information, especially dates of birth, social security numbers or bank account information. Inform DREMC anytime you receive a suspicious call from somebody threatening to turn off your power.