Scammers Don’t Take Breaks

Letter from the CEO

Scammers don’t take summer vacations, as several electric cooperatives can attest. Reported efforts to rip off consumers have been picking up in recent weeks, including making claims of incorrect meter readings or possibly to inform you of an overdue payment.

Member-consumers have been getting calls that their meter reading has been wrong for a few months and that the caller needs the consumer’s address to mail a check.

IT IS A SCAM!! “If Orange County REMC has read your meter, we already have your address,” said Matt Deaton, General Manager/CEO of Orange County REMC. What the scammers really plan to do with the addresses isn’t known.

Scammers use a variety of other tricks to prey on utility consumers. A “representative” may appear at your door in a plausible work uniform claiming that your electric meter is not working properly and must be immediately replaced— at your expense. In a particularly alarming form of this scam, the scammer may gain access to your home to perform “repairs” or an “energy audit” with the intent of stealing your valuables. These scams may also involve promises of energy discounts with the aim of taking your money, personal information, or possibly the account details needed to switch you to another utility provider without your consent (an illegal practice known as “slamming”).

“If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with your local electric utility, don’t give them any personal or financial information. Instead, hang up and call us right away!” said Matt Deaton. ” Orange County REMC will never ask for a pre-paid card to pay your bill—that is what many scammers ask for in the calls!”

Another scam to be aware of is someone calling to threaten disconnection unless payment is made immediately. Orange County REMC will never send a representative to your door or over the phone to request a cash payment to avoid immediate disconnection of your power.

“This is a scam! DO NOT GIVE ANY INFORMATION TO ANYONE OVER THE PHONE unless you have contacted us directly,” said Matt Deaton. Orange County REMC will contact you by mailing an invoice or statement to your home through the U.S. Postal Service.

“Scammers are calling member-consumers late in the afternoon, which is apparently part of the now traditional scam to panic them. Of course, our member-consumers do not want to be without electricity overnight,” said Matt Deaton.

Orange County REMC never makes these types of calls, nor does it disconnect power outside of regular business hours or on weekends.

Tips to Spot This Scam: 

  • Prepaid debit cards and wire transfers are a red flag. If a caller specifically asks you to pay by pre-paid debit card or wire transfer, this is a huge warning sign. Orange County REMC will accept a check or credit card.
  • Pressure to pay immediately. Scammers will press for immediate payment and may try to intimidate you into giving them your personal and banking information.

Protect Yourself Against This Scam:

  • Call customer service. If you feel pressured for immediate action by a caller, hang up the phone and call our customer service department at 812-865-2229. This will ensure you are speaking to a real representative. Never give your personal or banking information to an unverified or unsolicited caller.
  • Never allow anyone into your home unless you have scheduled an appointment or reported a problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification before letting them enter.

 

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