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Vol. 65 Number 4


News orthwestern Electric February 2014 Scammers target cooperative members I


t seems like every time you listen to the news or read the paper, there is a report on how a scam artist has tricked someone into giving them money. Scammers continue to target everyone, regardless of age, gender, education or income level. They can cost people a lot of money and cause a great deal of distress. Scammers have been targeting electric cooperative members in several states. They have been using a variety of schemes including one where a man dresses like a cooperative employee.


Big Sandy RECC members in Kentucky have been approached by a man requesting money with the threat of disconnection. He drives a vehicle that looks similar to the cooperative’s vehicles and is dressed like a utility worker. The vehicle doesn’t have a logo emblem on it, but if the members aren’t paying attention it could go unnoticed. Fortunately, the members he approached knew they had paid their bills and didn’t give him any money. In Tennessee, scammers posing as co-op employees have been calling residential and business members, demanding immediate payment to avoid disconnection. The calls sound official and sometimes the caller ID even displays the name of the utility. Scammers in Colorado have been calling commercial members of La Plata Electric Association trying to steal credit card information. The caller indicates the businesses’ account is past due, and payment must be made immediately by credit card or the electricity will be disconnected. In New Mexico, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative members have been getting calls from someone claiming


to be a co-op service representative. He threatens to turn off the electricity in 30 minutes unless they make an immediate payment using a prepaid money card. So far, we have only received one call from a member stating a representative from our office called requesting him to pay his past due balance with a prepaid card or he would be disconnected. He was positive he had paid his bill so he hung up and called our office directly. Sure enough, he had paid his bill in full earlier that month. Thank goodness he decided to call us first to verify we had received his payment. Although we can’t stop the scammers from approaching you, we do want to give you a couple of tips on how to avoid falling victim to a scam.


Our billing representatives occasionally call to remind members their account is past due or they have a broken arrangement. We do not demand you pay immediately with a credit or prepaid card. Our reps will provide you with a date and time you need to pay your bill by to avoid being disconnected.


If for any reason you suspect this may be a scam artist calling, hang up and call our office at 580.256.7425 or 800.375.7423. We will verify if it was one of our consumer reps who called and the reason for contacting you. When working collects and disconnects, one of our servicemen may come to your home. He should be wearing a blue shirt with


Inside


Hidden treasures ..........2 Energy efficiency..........3 Recipe............................3 Heart health...................4 Important dates.............4


Carl Bryer wears Northwestern Electric’s official uniform—blue shirt with his name and company logo on it—and keeps his employee identification handy while he is on the job. Our fleet vehicles are clearly marked with our company logo. If you are approached by someone you suspect is not a cooperative employee, give us a call immediately.


Northwestern Electric’s logo and his name on it. Also, the vehicle will be clearly marked with the Cooperative’s emblem. Our linemen carry employee identification cards and will show them upon request.


Just like the phone scams, if you suspect the person is not a cooperative employee or you want to make sure, call our office for verification. “You are the best protection you have to keep from being victimized by scammers,” says Jonna Hensley, NWEC’s member services and communications specialist. “If you think you are being approached by a scammer, contact us immediately to let us know what is going on. It’s safer to take a minute or two of your time and ours to make sure you are dealing with one of our employees.”


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