July 28, 2021
We want to warn our members of a recent scam attempt.
One of our members received a call from someone who claimed to be a lineman for Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative. The caller informed the member their electric bill was past due, and that the meter would be pulled and service disconnected if the member did not pay the past due amount of $500. The caller instructed the member to go to a Dollar General store and purchase a $500 gift card as the method of payment. Thankfully the astute member came to our Stigler office to inquire about their account status, and avoided being scammed out of $500.
These scam attempts are occurring more frequently, and scammers are finding more creative and convincing ways to steal your money. During this particular scam attempt, the caller number showed up on the member’s phone as our actual “800” number, and the caller mentioned names of employees working at CHEC. These fraudulent details often convince the innocent victim to follow through with a transaction only to find out later the whole thing was a scam. We strongly encourage you to call us at 800-328-2368 if you ever receive a similar demand for payment on your account.
We are including some helpful guidelines, and the link from the Federal Trade Commission on steps you can take if you get a call from someone claiming to be your utility company. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/07/utility-company-calling-dont-fall-it
- Thank the caller for the information. Then firmly tell them you will contact the utility company directly using the number on your bill or on the company’s website.
- Even if the caller insists you have a past due bill or your services will be shut off, never give banking information over the phone unless you place the call to a number you know is legitimate.
- Utility companies don’t demand banking information by email or phone. And they won’t force you to pay by phone as your only option.
- If the caller demands payment by gift card, cash reload card, wiring money or cryptocurrency, it is a scam. Legitimate companies don’t demand payment by gift cards (like iTunes or Amazon), cash reload cards (like MoneyPak, Vanilla, or Reloadit), or cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin).
- Tell your friends and loved ones about the scam so they can protect themselves. If you got this scam call, others in your community probably did too. We know when people hear about scams, they’re much more likely to avoid them.