News Release: Bill payment scam targets local utility members
HOOKER, Okla. (Feb. 11, 2013) – Tri-County Electric Cooperative is warning members about a bill payment scam.
Members who fallen victim to the scam reported receiving telephone calls claiming their electricity will be turned off within hours unless they make an immediate payment. Individuals impersonating utility personnel try to gain access to the member’s bank account or ask for payment through a third-party vendor or a prepaid card.
Reports of this particular scam have come to the cooperative from Spanish-speaking members. However, payment scams in general are an issue nationwide so it’s important all members are aware of the possibility they may be contacted.
“Tri-County Electric never contacts members to demand immediate payment prior to disconnection,” Tri-County Electric Corporate Services Vice President Zac Perkins said. “Anyone receiving such a call should hang up and call us directly.”
Some tips from the Better Business Bureau to avoid scams targeting utility customers:
- Beware of giving personal information over the phone. Never provide your social security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you initiated the contact and feel confident with whom you are speaking.
- Do your research. If you receive a call claiming to be your utility company and feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill.
- Beware of the door-to-door sales approach. Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless you have scheduled an appointment or have reported a utility problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification.
- Be proactive. If you have already provided information to someone claiming to offer this service, contact your bank immediately.
- Inform others. Share this information with friends and family so they do not become victims.
Members can manage their account online at www.tcec.coop or call the cooperative anytime at 800-522-3315 to check their account status.