It is no secret that consumers with a water, gas or an electricity connection have long been targets for utility scams, but scammers have changed their tactics since the COVID-19 pandemic. As consumers became more reliant on technology for work, school and commerce, scammers noted these shifts and adapted their tactics to this changed environment.
Imposter scams are the most common types of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission. While scam artists may come to your door posing as a utility worker who works 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 past due on your electric bill and threaten to disconnect your service if you do not 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 do not have time to think clearly.
If this happens over the phone, simply hang up. If you are concerned about your bill, call us at 620-364-2116 or 800-748-7395. Our phone number can always be found on your monthly bill and at www. 4riverselectric.com. If the scam is by email or text, delete it before taking any action. Remember, 4 Rivers Electric will never attempt to collect immediate payment without prior notice of a past due bill via mail or phone call. If you are unsure of your account status, you can always call us or use the SmartHub app to double check your account and keep your contact information up-to-date.
Some scammers may falsely claim you have been overcharged on your bill and say they want to give a refund. All you must do is click or press a button to initiate the process — sounds simple enough. If you proceed, you will be prompted to provide banking or other personal information. However, 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. While you may feel compelled to block the phone number, scammers may be spoofing legitimate phone numbers and blocking that number could potentially block the legitimate business. 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, mark the contact as spam. When in doubt, simply contact our office.
Defend Yourself Against Scams
Be wary of calls or texts from unknown or unexpected numbers. Be suspicious of an unknown person claiming to be a utility worker who requests banking or other personal information. 4 Rivers Electric Cooperative employees will never ask for banking information over the phone.
Never let anyone you do not know into your home unless you have a scheduled appointment, or you have reported a problem. 4 Rivers employees wear uniforms with the coop logo and always identify themselves when performing field work.
We want to help protect our community against utility scams, and you can help as 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.