How to guard against threat of utility scams

bright red stamp of the work "SCAMS"Incidents of utility scams tend to pick up during peak heating seasons, with imposters targeting unwary consumers using more sophisticated and deceptive tactics.

The Better Business Bureau reports that scams impact one in four households and one in five individuals each year. Roanoke Electric wants to empower its member-owners to ensure they don’t fall prey to this troubling trend.

In many cases, imposters posing as utility company representatives will call homes and businesses demanding payment for what they say are delinquent bills. That comes with the threat to turn off your service unless you provide them credit card and bank information immediately.

Throughout the industry, this type of activity tends to pick up during heating seasons when fraudsters can create a sense of urgency on the call.

“Roanoke Electric Co-op will never ask you to offer up personal finance information over the phone,” warned Johnetta Chavis, the co-op’s supervisor of Member Services. “If you receive a suspicious call or email about your electric bill or service, contact us at the number provided on your energy bill immediately.” She added that the co-op does not cut-off service without advanced warning.

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

The Do’s & Don’ts:

  • 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.

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