Evolution of a scam

Posted on Jul 05 2022 in Decatur County REMC

Brett Abplanalp

No matter if you have a water, gas, or electricity connection — or all three — utility scammers may already be targeting you. In fact, imposter scams are the number one type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission. 

Utility scammers have been around for years. But since the COVID-19 pandemic and a work-from-home norm that amped everyone’s use of computers and other electronic devices, fraudsters have also adapted their duping tactics to align with a more technological savvy world.

Though scam artists may still come to your door posing as utility workers who work for the “power company,” in today’s more connected world, attempts are more likely to come through an electronic device, via email, phone or text.

Common Types of Scams

A scammer may claim you are overdue on your electric bill and threaten to disconnect your service if you don’t pay immediately. Whether this is done in person or by phone, text or email, the scammers want to scare you into immediate payment so you don’t have time to think clearly. 

If this happens over the phone, simply hang up. If you’re concerned about your bill, call us at 800-844-7362. Our phone number can also be found on your monthly bill and on our website, dcremc.com. If the scam is by email or text, delete it before taking any action. If you’re unsure, you can always contact us at Decatur County REMC, or use the SmartHub app to check the status of your account. Remember, our cooperative will never attempt to demand immediate payment after just one notice.

Some scammers may falsely claim you have been overcharged on your bill and say they want to give a refund. It sounds easy. All you have to do is click or press a button to initiate the process. If you proceed, you will be prompted to provide banking or other personal information. Instead of money going into your bank account, the scammers can drain your account and use personal information such as a social security number for identity theft. 

If this “refund” scam happens over the phone, just hang up and block the phone number to prevent future robocalls. If this scam attempt occurs via email (known as a “phishing” attempt) or by text (“smishing”), do not click any links. Instead, delete the email or text, and if possible, block the sender. If you do overpay on your energy bill, Decatur County REMC will automatically apply the credit to your next billing cycle. When in doubt, contact us.

Defend Yourself Against Scams

Be wary of call or texts from unknown numbers. Be suspicious of an unknown person claiming to be a utility worker who requests banking or other personal information. 

Never let anyone into your home who you don’t know unless you have a scheduled appointment or reported a problem. Decatur County REMC employees wear specific uniforms and carry ID badges. When we perform work at our members’ properties or come into their homes, our employees will always identify themselves. 

We want to help protect our community against utility scams. You can help create the first line of defense. Please report any potential scams to us so we can spread the word to prevent others in the community from falling victim.