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Every day, millions of Americans are targeted by scammers through phone calls, emails, text messages, websites and in person.
Scammers’ tactics can change daily, which is why it’s important for consumers to stay on top of the latest scam reports.
Electric co-op members have been targeted through a phone scam purporting that power will be shut off unless immediate payment is received. Representatives with Medina Electric Cooperative have said they will never call customers to demand immediate payment without notice.
“We want you to be aware of two other trending scam tactics; one is the overpayment trick, in which a scammer contacts you and claims that you have overpaid your utility bill,” MEC CEO Mark Rollans said. “The scammer will say they need your personal banking information to deposit the extra funds back into your checking account. “Don’t fall for this scam, if you make an overpayment to us, MEC will automatically apply the credit to your account, which will carry over to the next billing cycle.”
Another trending scam is called smishing. Many consumers know to watch out for suspicious emails, but tend to trust text messages sent to smartphones.
“Always question suspicious texts,” Rollans said. “Especially from someone claiming to represent a utility. MEC will only send you important updates via text if you’ve signed up for our text alert service.”
MEC offers the following reminders on how to take control of the situation when you’ve been targeted by a scammer:
Take your time. Utility scammers try to create a sense of urgency so that you’ll act fast and hand over personal information without thinking. Take a moment to evaluate the situation before acting.
Be suspicious. Scammers typically request immediate payment through prepaid debit cards or third-party smartphone apps. Unusual requests like this should raise red flags. Remember, 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 MEC or another utility but you’re unsure, just hang up the phone and call the utility directly. Call MEC at 1-866-MEC-ELEC (632-3532) to verify the situation.
Medina EC members can learn more about scams targeted at utilities at MedinaEC.org/Scammers.