A rash of panicked phone calls filled the lines at Delta-Montrose Electric Association last week as members reported yet another phone scam. Although consumers are typically savvy regarding scams, DMEA advises members to exercise caution as the scammers become more sophisticated and clever.
"The scammers are using the same language we use in the utility world and referencing practices like meter swap outs, deposits, and the like. In short, the scammers are getting more educated about the way we do business and unfortunately, that makes it easier for members to fall for the ruse," explained DMEA marketing and communications manager Becky Mashburn.
In general, callers are claiming to be DMEA representatives, stating members are past due on their account, and threatening immediate disconnection if members do not pay. This time, the scammers have also armed themselves with an even more convincing lie: Caller ID spoofing.
"Adding to the confusion is the scammers' ability to spoof DMEA's phone number. This means their calls show up as DMEA on a caller ID, even though it's not us," explained Mashburn.
So how do you know if DMEA is calling you or not? According to Mashburn, you don't.
"It's best to play it safe. If you receive a call demanding payment for anything, think before you act. Get more information from the caller, hang up, and reach out to DMEA directly," says Mashburn.
Additionally, all DMEA members can access their own account 24/7 through the co-op's online account management tool, Smart Hub. This service gives members direct access to their account status, so they can view their billing and payment history, plus the ability to pay online and a host of energy management services.
In addition to setting up an online account, DMEA offers these tips:
Don't give out personal information. DMEA representatives will not take your credit card number over the phone. In order to protect you, our rules require you to enter your card number yourself through our interactive phone system. Don't give credit card numbers, bank accounts, social security numbers, or other personal information out over the phone.
Be skeptical. DMEA doesn't call you after hours, on weekends, or holidays. If you receive a suspicious call, take down the caller's information, hang up, and reach out directly to DMEA to confirm the status of your account. Some members may receive calls from DMEA regarding account balances, but remember, payment must always be initiated by you, the account holder. Pay online, through DMEA's automated phone system, in person at an established DMEA office, or by mailing payment directly to DMEA.
Call the law. If you receive a scam call, report it to DMEA and local law enforcement immediately.
Initiate payment on your own terms. DMEA will make courtesy calls to alert members their account is past due. However, members should always be the one to initiate the payment process with DMEA, paying through the secure phone system, in person at their local office, by mail, online via SmartHub, or at payment kiosks.