Co-op encourages member-owners to watch out for utility scams

Posted: February 1, 2021 at 1:00 pm

Roanoke Electric Cooperative would like to encourage member-owners to beware of a potential fraud involving online utility payments.

“We recently received a call from a member-owner that noticed her online payment has not been posted to her account,” said Kirby Jordan, the co-op’s vice-president of member services, marketing and public relations. “The member-owner googled REC and a third party bill payer popped up in her search results but it appeared like REC. The third -party company charged her fees for paying the bill and the cooperative never charges a fee to pay us directly. If there is a fee attached to making a payment, that should be a huge red flag.”

The co-op also wants to remind member-owners of the following “do’s and don’ts,” if you suspect you are on the receiving end of a fraudulent utility scam:

– Only use the co-op’s website (www.roanokeelectric.com) to make online payments for your electric bill.
– If someone calls you demanding you pay your electric bill and threatening to disconnect service, gather as much information as you can before hanging up and contacting the co-op and local authorities.
– Call the co-op, at the customer service number listed on your bill, to find out if you’re behind on a payment. Don’t use a call-back number provided by a suspicious caller.
– Exercise caution, if someone claiming to be a co-op employee comes to your home demanding money or requesting to inspect your property. Don’t allow them into your home unless you have scheduled an appointment or reported a problem. Even so, check their identification first. Still in doubt? Contact the co-op and verify their identity.
– Do not wire money or provide numbers from prepaid cards, if you are contacted by someone claiming to represent the co-op regarding a utility matter.

“We recognize the COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for scammers to take advantage of member-owners relying on digital platforms to manage their accounts,” Jordan continued. “If you’re ever in doubt or don’t feel comfortable at any point in time, be sure to contact our office directly.”

If you have questions or concerns regarding a potential utility scam, contact the co-op at (252) 209-2236.