Kosciusko REMC reports that scammers are committing a particularly painful form of identity theft and have hit on just the right formula to trick thousands of victims: A punishing heat wave, large utility bills, a bad economy and a good story.
The criminals have been marching across the country, making their way from state to state, persuading victims that a special federal government assistance program – sometimes described as a bailout authorized by President Barack Obama’s administration – is available to pay their utility bills. Victims are given bank account and routing numbers to use when paying their bills online, but only after they “register” by surrendering their Social Security numbers and other personal information.
There is no such utility payment assistance program. But electricity users seem to be falling for the ruse everywhere, making it in one of the more successful scams in recent times. The old adage still holds true – if something appears too good to be true, it probably is. Never give out your Social Security number or bank account information to someone who calls you without verifying the call.
If you receive a phone call from a person representing themselves as a Kosciusko REMC employee and you suspect it is a scam, hang up. Do not give the caller any personal information. Be especially protective of your Social Security number, bank and credit card numbers, and driver’s license number.
Legitimate companies will not call or email you asking for your account number or password, so keep your account information to yourself. You should also not assume that you can trust caller ID to let you know where a caller is located. Because scammers may use Internet calling technology, the area code you see may not reflect where they really are. Jot down the person’s name, then hang up and call Kosciusko REMC’s main line at 574-267-6331 to verify the call.
If someone appears at your door claiming to represent Kosciusko REMC, you should call the office at 574-267-6331 to verify the visit. Never let anyone into your home unless you have scheduled an appointment or unless the person has proper identification. The Kosciusko REMC logo should appear on hardhats, shirts and vehicles. If you suspect someone is impersonating a Kosciusko REMC employee, do not let them into your home and call the police immediately.
Co-op members should be aware and know that these phone calls or door-to-door visits are not valid. Members can safely make payments though Kosciusko REMC’s website or by calling them at 574-267-6631. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.