November 12, 2013
Washington Electric Co-op warns members about phone scam
East Montpelier, VT- Washington Electric Cooperative (WEC) is warning members about a phone scam targeting Vermont utility consumers. Green Mountain Power and Vermont Electric Cooperative have both had reports regarding this scam. WEC has not had any reports yet, but we anticipate that the potential for the scam to extend to WEC is likely. 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 over the phone. Anyone receiving a suspicious and 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 am and 6:00 pm 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 at 1-800-932-5245. That way you are calling WEC and can assure you are not the victim of a scam. 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 might 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.