Phone Scam Targets Spanish-Speaking Electric Utility Consumers
LIVINGSTON, April 25, 2014 - It’s an unfortunate crime that keeps making headlines—reports continue to surface of a scam involving prepaid money cards.
Sam Houston Electric Cooperative is again cautioning their residential and commercial members to be on the lookout. Although the approach varies from case to case, the underlying motive of the scheme remains the same.
“The scammers are calling Cooperative members and claiming to be Sam Houston Electric Cooperative employees,” Keith Stapleton, Sam Houston EC chief communications officer, said. “These scams don’t seem to be going away. They’re preying primarily on the elderly, but they are also targeting businesses and anyone else who will answer the scammers’ phone calls.”
Stapleton added that a recent round of reports said the scammers were targeting Spanish-speaking consumers.
The Cooperative’s members reported that the caller told them their account was delinquent and they needed to pay immediately or their electricity would be turned off—some were told they had only an hour while others were told they had until 5:00 p.m. to pay their balance. The caller then told the members to load money on a prepaid money card and call back with the money card’s number.
Other reports said that the caller claimed there was an urgent issue with the member’s electric meter and that they needed to make a payment immediately to fix it.
Sam Houston EC asks that any member who receives a suspicious call ask the name of the caller and a phone number to call back on—then hang up and immediately report it to the Cooperative by calling 1-800-458-0381. While these thieves are very elusive, asking the caller for any information, like a name and phone number, may help authorities locate the source of this scam.
“If anyone claiming to a Co-op employee calls and asks you for personal information, you can hang up and call our office directly. That way, you’ll know you’re speaking with a Co-op representative,” Stapleton said.
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