Posted: Tuesday, July 10th 2012 at 9:36am
Jackson EMC says scam artists targeting utility customers
JEFFERSON - It looks as if utility customers, both residential and business, are the latest targets of scam artists.
Jackson EMC reported this week that they have had a number of complaints from customers, indicating that unauthorized persons are threatening to cut off electricity because of unpaid bills.
Jackson EMC Director of Customer Service Brent Cochran said, "We've had business customers reporting that people posing as the 'the power company' have threatened to turn off their power during business hours for allegedly unpaid bills unless they make a payment with a credit card. Similar contacts, some by phone and some in person, have occurred with residential customers."
Cochran said the company has also heard of another scam where customers are told they have been awarded an "Obama Stimulus Package" that will help with payments of utility bills. Customers are asked to provide a check routing number and a Social Security number to the scammer.
"[There's also] a scam that involves calls offering 'free energy audits' to get into customers' homes. In at least one instance, the person was wearing a shirt with 'Jackson EMC' on it. All of these contacts are bogus and the intent is simply to defraud," said Cochran.
Cochran said the hot weather has made some people more susceptible to threats to turn off their power.
Jackson EMC has released the following guidelines, hoping to help customers avoid being scammed.
~If you receive a call, hang up and call the number on your utility bill; you’ll know you’re talking to a legitimate representative.
~If you receive a visit, tell the person that you’d prefer to call your utility company about the matter and close the door.
~If the person at your door says they represent 'your power company,' don’t look at the shirt – ask for an I.D. badge.
~If you’re provided with any information by the scammers, pass that information along to local law enforcement.
~If you feel threatened in any way, call local law enforcement immediately.
Cochran noted that neither Jackson EMC nor other utilities call customers and request personal information, such as Social Security and credit card numbers, over the phone.
"If the contact is legitimate, you will be asked to go to your utility’s secure website or come to a payment location to handle any unpaid balance on your bill. And no utility will demand payment on the spot to avoid having your power cut off immediately," he said.
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