An article in a recent issue of Electric Co-op News reported two phone scams currently targeting members of electric cooperatives. Members of Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative in Wisconsin notified co-op staff of calls they received this month.
One of the scams involved a fraudster posing as an employee of an investor-owned utility (IOU). The scammer, claiming the IOU had taken over the member's account in November, demanded immediate payment or face disconnection for nonpayment. The member recognized the call was a scam and reported it to Polk-Burnett EC.
Electric cooperatives are member-owned. The members, either directly or via their elected directors, would have to vote to sell their cooperative to an IOU or another company. Members would know in advance of such an event. So, if you receive a call from a person claiming that your electric account has been taken over by another company, it is definitely a scam call. Do not give the caller any information. Simply hang up.
Another scam reported to Polk-Burnett EC involved a scammer claiming to be a co-op employee. The fraudster said the member had overpaid her electric bill and would need to supply financial data to get her refund. She realized it was a scam, hung up, and reported it to the co-op.
Should you ever overpay your Valley Rural Electric Cooperative bill, we apply the excess as a credit toward your future bill(s). We do not ask you for financial information to arrange a refund. If you receive a call saying you are due a refund on your electric bill, simply hang up.
And if you are ever in doubt about the validity of caller claiming to be from Valley REC, ask for the caller's name and explain that you will call back. Then call us toll-free at 1-800-432-0680 and ask for the person by name.