Every day, North Carolinians are targeted by scammers through phone calls, emails, text messages, online or in person. Scammers’ tactics can change daily, which is why it’s important for co-op members to stay on top of the latest utility scam reports.
Several members have reported being targeted through scams where someone claims to be a co-op employee and demands immediate payment, threatening to shut off power if the payment is not received in a certain number of hours. Scammers often ask for personal account information and/or demand that payment be made with a prepaid credit card.
“We are encouraging all members to hang up and call your co-op’s office using the phone number listed on a bill or another official document if you ever doubt the identity of someone claiming to represent the co-op,” said Louis Duke, spokesperson for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. “We are reminding all members that your co-op will never contact a member to obtain account or personal information without notice.”
Here are a few tactics to take control of the situation if you’re ever targeted by a scam:
- Take your time. Scammers try to create a sense of urgency so that you’ll act fast and hand over personal information, especially via phone. Take time to think before acting.
- Be suspicious. Scammers typically request immediate payments through prepaid debit cards or third-party apps. Unusual requests like this should raise red flags. If the request seems strange and out of the ordinary, you’re likely being targeted by a scammer.
- Confirm before you act. If you’re contacted by someone claiming to represent the co-op or another utility but you’re unsure, just hang up the phone and call the utility directly.
Our increasingly connected world provides scammers with more opportunities to connect with unsuspecting consumers. Be vigilant, and please report any utility scams to your co-op so we can let others in our community know. We urge members to be aware of scams and ask that members share information with family, friends and neighbors to help stop scams.