Unfortunately, in today’s world, scams are inevitable. With uncertainty around the pandemic still, people are susceptible to being taken advantage of. Scammers can threaten you with everything from legal action involving the IRS to turning off power to your home.
Utility scams often involve an individual or group posing as an employee of your electric cooperative. The scammer may use threatening language in order to frighten you into offering your credit card or bank account information. Don’t fall victim to these types of scams. Understand the threats posed and your best course of action:
- If someone calls your home or cell phone demanding you pay your electric bill immediately, gather as much information as you can from that individual, hang-up the phone, and contact NWEC at 1-800-647-6932 or 419-636-5051. You could also consider contacting your local police. Scammers often use threats and urgency to pressure you into giving them your bank account number or loading a pre-paid credit or debit card or a gift card (such as a pre-paid Visa). While we do take credit card and checking account payments over the phone, NWEC will never ask for pre-paid credit or debit cards. Your safest bet is to tell the caller (even if it really is us) that you’re going to hang up and call our office.
- We do make payment reminder calls to members who are at risk of being disconnected. Please remember that we only make these calls during normal business hours. So if you receive such a call before 7:00 a.m., or after 4 p.m., or on the weekend, then you could be pretty certain that it’s a scam. If you have any doubts about your utility bill, contact our member payment center either in person, or over the phone at 1-800-647-6932.
- If someone comes to your home claiming to be an employee of NWEC that needs to collect money or inspect parts of your property, you can ask them to wait outside your home while you call us to verify. If it is, in fact, one of our employees, they will not mind waiting while you make the call. If they are not, call local authorities for assistance and do not under any circumstances, let the individual into your home.
There are other types of scams to watch out for, too:
- Government agencies like the IRS will never call to inform you that you have unpaid taxes or other liens against you. You will always receive this type of information in the mail. If someone calls claiming to be the IRS, hang-up immediately.
- If you receive an email from an unknown sender; an email riddled with spelling errors and typos; or an email threatening action unless a sum of money is paid, do not click any links provided within the email, and do not respond to the email. Simply delete it.
- If someone calls your home claiming to have discovered a virus on your computer, hang-up. This caller’s intent is to access personal information you may be keeping on your computer.
North Western Electric Cooperative wants to make sure you avoid scams. If you have questions about how to protect yourself from scammers, call 1-800-647-6932.