President’s Message – July 2022

Know the Signs of a Scam

Jimmy Black headshotFor years, consumers with a water, gas, or electricity connection have long been targets for utility scams, but fraudsters have changed their tactics since the COVID-19 pandemic began. As consumers shifted to technology for work, school and commerce, scammers noticed and adapted their schemes.

Imposter scams are the most prevalent type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission. While scam artists may come to your door posing as an employee for the “power company,” attempts are now more likely to occur via email, phone or text.

Common Types of Scams

A scammer may claim your electric bill is overdue and threaten disconnection if you don’t pay immediately. Whether in person, by phone, text, or email, scammers want to scare you into payment before you 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) 333-9392. Our phone number can also be found on your monthly bill and on our website. If the scam is by email or text, delete it before taking any action. If you’re unsure, you can always call or use the app to check the status of your account. Remember, Gulf Coast Electric 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, 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 it and, if possible, block the sender.

If you do overpay on your energy bill, Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative will automatically apply the credit to your next billing cycle. When in doubt, contact us.

Defend Yourself Against Scams

Be wary of calls 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 that you don’t know unless you have a scheduled appointment or reported a problem. Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative employees wear khaki uniform shirts and carry ID badges. When we perform work on our members’ properties or come into your home, our employees are professionals and will always identify themselves.

We want to help protect the community against utility scams, and you are 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.

Jimmy Black