volume 66 - issue 8 - August 2016
Be aware and stay safe from payment scams
Every few months a new version of a payment scam pops up. The situation typically starts with a residential or commercial customer receiving a phone call saying that the customer’s electric service is going to be disconnected that day if the caller doesn't receive a payment.
SMECO issues alerts when new scam reports are received, but members should be prepared for any type of payment scam they may face.
“Not only are these calls a nuisance to customers, but scam artists can potentially steal thousands of dollars from unsuspecting residents and businesses,” said Tom Dennison, managing director of government and public affairs.
Here are some helpful guidelines for customers:
• Only give payment information over the phone if you initiate the call to SMECO.
• If someone calls you and threatens to cut off service within an hour or two, they are probably running a scam.
The best way to prevent falling victim to this crime is to know SMECO’s processes.
It’s important to know how much you owe and when payments are due. Electric utilities follow state regulations and have set schedules for billing and payment—SMECO bills are issued monthly. Overdue amounts are identified on a customer’s bill and if payments are late, SMECO sends a pink termination notice.
SMECO has a set routine for collecting overdue payments from customers.
• SMECO will mail a termination notice if a bill is past due.
• SMECO only calls customers who owe a past due balance.
• SMECO usually uses an automated phone system with a recorded message; rarely will SMECO employees make personal “collection” phone calls.
• Collection calls are made about 10 days before service is to be terminated. SMECO does not require payment at the time of the call.
• SMECO does not make collection calls or terminate service on weekends or holidays.
• If service is going to be terminated, a SMECO collector will knock on the customer’s door before turning off service.
• SMECO collectors will accept credit card payments, checks, or money orders, but they do not accept cash.
What to do if you receive a scam call?
If you receive a phone call from someone threatening to disconnect your power, hang up. If you want to verify your account information, you can call SMECO directly. Our customer care center is open 24 hours a day, every day, at 1-888-440-3311. The phone number is printed at the top of your bill.
Do not provide personal financial or electric account information to unauthorized callers. Customers should not provide Green Dot or Moneygram payments to callers claiming to be from SMECO.