Scams keeping co-ops on alert

Scammers continue to target electric cooperative ­members in several states, using a variety of schemes including one where a man looks like he might work at the co-op. That’s occurring in Paintsville, Ky.-based Big Sandy RECC’s service area, where officials say someone has been approaching members, requesting money under threat of disconnection.

In neighboring Tennessee, scammers posing as co-op employees have been calling both residential and ­business members, ­demanding ­immediate payment to avoid disconnection.

It’s happening in Illinois too. “We were alerted to the scam by a member who called us and wanted to know if we were actually requesting payment over the phone and if their service would be disconnected,” said Jennifer Skien, Vice President of Member Services, Jo-Carroll Energy. “In this case, the caller had identified himself as Jo-Carroll Energy, left a number he could be reached at, stated the member owed $500 and would be disconnected the same day if he did not pay.”

Skien advises that anyone who receives a suspicious call should exercise caution and never provide any information. If there’s any question about a phone call from someone claiming to be with the utility, she offers these tips:

• Never give your account number, credit card number, bank information or other personal information over the phone without verifying the call.

• Get the caller’s name.

• Get the phone number off caller ID.

• Call the police and your co-op.

“By calling the cooperative to report a suspicious call, members can talk to a member service rep­resen­tative who can confirm their bill and let them know if there are any problems with their account,” Skienadded.