Hang up on Phone Scams:Scammers continue targeting WFEC members, changing their tactics daily. Below are some of the most popular tricks employed by these individuals, followed by some tips our members can utilize to protect themselves and their finances.
Scammers call threatening disconnection of electric service, demanding immediate payment by prepaid cards purchased at a local retail store (or credit card, debit card, bank draft, or wiring money), and insisting the victim call them back with card information to make payments. WFEC will send one or more disconnection notices before disconnecting or shutting off electric service. The cooperative will also offer several billing payment options without specifying which type of payment must be made.
Bill Payment or Credit Con:
Scammers may provide phony account routing numbers to use to pay utility bills, receive credit, or obtain federal assistance. In exchange for personal information that can be used for identity theft, they will provide
a payment account number. If the number is entered during an online transaction, it may appear the utility has been paid, but no funds are actually paid to the utility, the account balance remains due, and late fees may be applied to accounts by the utility.
Equipment or Repair Bogus Fee:
Scammers call demanding separate payments to replace or install a utility-related device or meter. If a utility needs to upgrade or replace a piece of equipment, it will contact you ahead of time as a courtesy. If there is a charge related to work on equipment members own, members will be notified and it will typically be included on the monthly billing statement.
Scammers call claiming overpayment has been made on an electric account and personal bank account or credit card information is needed to facilitate a refund. This is not true. The utility typically applies any overpayments to accounts, allowing credit balances to cover any future charges, or refunds overpayments
by mailing a check.
Power Restoration Rip Off:
Scammers call offering to restore power quickly or in a preferential order for immediate payment or an upfront "reconnection fee," typically in the aftermath of hurricanes and other severe storms causing widespread power outages. Utilities do not require payment to restore electricity after natural disasters, though some utilities will accept in-person payment via check or phone payment after a disconnection for non-payment.
Smishing, short for SMS phishing, is a relatively new scam that attempts to trick mobile phone users into giving scammers personal information, which can be used for identity theft, via a text or SMS message. Scammers like smishing as members tend to be more inclined to trust text messages. WFEC will not text you unless you have signed up for a specific notification service offered by the co-op.
Scammers send suspicious emails that appear to be bills sent by WFEC potentially even featuring our logo and color scheme. Do NOT click on any links or attachments in any email unless the sender has been verified. These emails may link to a scam website designed to steal personal information or install malicious software onto computers. WFEC typically sends bills by mail, unless members have opted to receive bills electronically.
Protect Personal Information:
Never provide or confirm personal information (Social Security number, date of birth) or financial information (banking account information, debit or credit card information) to anyone initiating contact with you, whether by phone, in-person, or email, claiming to be a utility company representative. Never give out information or provide any payment type to any callers or unexpected individual(s) appearing at your
home or business claiming to represent WFEC. We have the relevant personal and account information we need on file.
Take Your Time:
Do not be rushed. If someone calls, appears or emails saying to pay bills immediately to avoid disconnection, hang up and call (800) 342-7400 to verify it is WFEC. Beware if a caller or in-person representative exhibits impatience, annoyance, or anger when their authority is questioned. Scammers will discourage hang ups or calling the number listed on utility bills.
Always Ask Questions:
Ask the person calling or visiting to provide account numbers, last payment date, or employee identification number. If he or she is a legitimate representative, this information is readily accessible. If not, hang up or shut the door, and call WFEC. Before providing any information or purchasing any products from someone appearing out of the blue, independently confirm their identity and the authenticity of their business by researching it online - verify the website and contact information and search for reviews and company policies.
Report the Scam to WFEC:
Know that questions may scare the scammer off. If not, document what the scammer said, including the name they provided, the date and time, caller ID number, employee identification number, the method
and amount of payment requested, any phone number, and any other details that might aid in a criminal investigation.
Pay Your Utility Only:
Never make a utility payment to anyone calling on the phone, coming door-to-door, texting or emailing. Always call WFEC at the number provided on the bill or website if you have a question about payment or
billing information. Know payment options offered by the co-op - online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
Stay Updated on Scams:
Scammers constantly update their tactics, stay educated on new types of scams and tips to avoid them.