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PRESS RELEASE – SCAM ALERT

Press Release

September 11, 2014

Washington Electric Co-op warns members about phone scam

Contact:
Susan Golden: 800-932-5245
susan.golden@wec.coop

East Montpelier, VT- Washington Electric Cooperative (WEC) is warning members about a phone scam targeting WEC members and other Vermont utility consumers.   A WEC member received a call from someone saying they were from Green Mountain Electric.   The member said she didn’t have Green Mountain and that she was a WEC member.  The scammer then went on to twist the story and claimed they were taking over collections for WEC; this is simply not true, and it is a scam!   The member was in a panic.   They told her she had until 8 p.m. to come up with the money or they would disconnect the power.   The scammers told her to go to the store and get a money card and they were very aggressive on the phone.   Luckily the member hung up and decided to call WEC back to check on her account; this is when she was informed it was a scam.   She was very thankful she called WEC’s office.

Other utilities in Vermont have been subject to this scam and now WEC members have been targeted.   The scammers begin with a call claiming they represent the electric utility and tell the victim their account is overdue and that they must be paid immediately or face a disconnection of power.   The scam may seek your credit card or debit card information immediately or face a disconnection of power.   The scam may seek your credit card or debit card information immediately over the phone.  Anyone receiving a suspicious or aggressive call should not give out personal information, including account or credit card numbers.

WEC does reach out to members by phone between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. if they are at risk of disconnection the next day, but we do not require immediate payment.   WEC offers many options for how the payment can be made to the utility, but we will not force a member to pay immediately by credit card.   If we call you and you have any questions on the legitimacy of the call, hang up and call WEC back at the main office number, 1-800-932-5245.     That way you are placing the call and you know you are calling WEC.   We take calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you will always reach us.   Phone calls after 5 p.m. go to our answering service, so we recommend that you call as soon as possible after 7:30 a.m. the following morning if you have reason to believe that your power is at risk of being disconnected.   Also, please be aware that disconnections only occur between 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Don’t fall for high-pressure tactics, including threats that you’re about to be disconnected for not paying your bill.   State and local police are aware of this scam, and you can help shut it down by reporting it promptly to local law enforcement, and providing any caller ID information that you may have.   But most importantly, don’t get taken in – don’t provide any cash, credit card, debit card or bank account numbers to anyone over the phone unless you are certain of the caller’s authenticity.

To verify anyone claiming to be a representative of Washington Electric Co-op & requesting credit card information, members should call the utility at 1-800-932-5245.

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