EMCs warning customers about phone scams

COVINGTON - Area Electric Membership Cooperatives are warning residents that scam artists are preying on their customers, primarily the elderly, seeking personal financial information.

According to printed press releases from both Snapping Shoals EMC and Walton EMC, residents should be aware of two different phone scams.

"In the latest scheme, the thieves contact EMC consumers, informing victims that the government is paying $350 towards the electric bill of senior citizens," said Snapping Shoals EMC spokeswoman Leigh-Anne Burgess.

The fraudulent caller claims that to process the check, he or she needs Social Security numbers, EMC account numbers and/or credit card information.

"If the scam artist obtains this information ... he or she will call the EMC consumer a few minutes later to 'verify' the information in an attempt to defray suspicion and give the scammers more time to use the data to make fraudulent purchases," she said.

According to the release from Walton EMC, another form of the scam is a person impersonating an EMC employee and telling the customer that their account is overdue. The caller then urgently requests a credit card number to avoid having to disconnect the customer's electric service.

"Walton EMC will not call you on short notice to disconnect your account," said Britt Swilley, WEMC call center manager. "We use a combination of postal mail, door cards and personal visits before disconnection."

The EMCs urge customers to notify law enforcement if they are contacted in this manner. Also, if a customer suspects a fraudulent call, they are asked to write down the number of the incoming call if provided on caller ID.

If a customer is doubtful about someone representing themselves as an EMC employee, SSSEMC can be called directly at 770-786-3484 and WEMC can be reached at 770-267-2505.

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com.