Listen Out for Utility Scams
While many consumers know to be wary of calls claiming to be from the IRS or offering a free cruise that seems too good to be true, the latest threat comes from scammers disguised as utility companies. Central Georgia EMC warns residential and commercial customer-owners to be on high alert for phone scammers who claim they are with the utility and demand immediate payment or threaten immediate disconnection.
Like most scams, the more urgent the message, the more you should question it. Victims report receiving calls where the person on the line identifies themselves as a representative from Central Georgia EMC. He or she tells you that you are late on your bill and you need to pay immediately, or your utilities will be shut off. The caller may ask you to pay by using a prepaid debit card, instructing you to obtain one and call them back. This is a huge warning sign. Prepaid debit cards are like cash. Once you transfer the money, you will be unable to retrieve it. Requests to send money by Western Union have also been made in an attempt to scam victims out of money. While Central Georgia EMC does make courtesy phone calls regarding past due accounts, we will never require a specific form of payment, nor will we demand that you make a payment with a third party.
How to recognize a scammer
- Scammers often target small businesses, such as restaurants, in hopes of creating an increased sense of urgency.
- Scammers may suggest a specific store from which the customer can purchase a prepaid card. Scammers like prepaid debit cards because they can obtain the money on the card without showing a photo ID.
- Scammers use caller ID "spoofing," which causes the customer's phone to display a false caller ID. In some of the cases that have been reported, the caller ID indicated Central Georgia EMC, but the telephone number was not Central Georgia EMC’s number.
- Scammers may threaten to turn a customer’s service off if the customer does not make a payment immediately.
If you receive a suspicious call demanding immediate payment, hang up the phone. Central Georgia EMC customer-owners can always verify their account balance on the electric cooperative’s free mobile app, on the cooperative’s automated account information system at 770-775-7857, or online at www.cgemc.com.