Energy Scams Unmasked | OEC News

Spot a scam with these help tips

Utility scams have long targeted consumers with water, gas and electricity connections. But in today’s digital world, every swipe and click increases the risk of potential scams.

Scammers are more sophisticated than ever, and they understand our increasing reliance on technology. With their sharpened digital knives, scammers have adapted their tactics to trick unsuspecting consumers through various methods.

OEC wants to help you avoid energy scams, whether a financial loss or leak of your personal information. This month, I’d like to share updates on the latest utility scams and tips to help you stay safe from even the craftiest scammers.

RECENT UTILITY SCAMS

Scammers typically disguise themselves––either physically or digitally–– as utility employees or representatives to steal consumers’ money or personal information. A common trick is to claim a consumer’s bill is past due and threaten to disconnect service if payment isn’t received immediately. Scammers approach consumers through a variety of means, including phone calls, text messages, emails and even in-person visits. However, the digital line of attack is increasingly more common.

For example, new capabilities disguising caller ID or “spoofing” can make the phone number you see on caller ID appear to be from a trusted source. Spoofing makes it easier for scammers to deceive you because it’s more difficult to verify the call immediately. Another recent scam uses fraudulent websites that are identical to a utility payment webpage––and what’s worse, these pages are often promoted on search engines to trick consumers into clicking and making a payment.

Another recent scam involves phone calls, texts or emails claiming you overpaid your electric bill and will receive a cash or banking refund. This offer may seem too good to be true, and it is––it’s likely a scam aimed to steal your personal information.

SPOTTING A SCAM

There are several red flags you can look for to identify an energy scam.

Scammers often use high-pressure tactics to create a sense of urgency, like claiming your electricity or other services will be disconnected if a payment isn’t made immediately.

Additionally, scammers may ask for unusual payment methods such as gift cards or cryptocurrency. If someone pushes for an unusual payment method, it’s likely a scam.

You’ve probably noticed that many digital scams, such as emails or text messages, include poor grammar, spelling errors and odd email addresses. These are red flags, so when you see these dodgy forms of communication, consider it a potential scam.

WHAT OEC WILL (AND WON’T) DO

OEC utilizes an automated outbound call system to notify members and subscribers of a delinquent account. We strive to resolve challenging situations and work with our members to avoid disconnects. We will never ask for your full Social Security number or banking details over the phone or through email.

We offer several secure payment options, including in-person, online at okcoop. smarthub.coop, the MyOEC app and local PAYSITE Kiosks located in nearby retail stores. If in doubt, hang up and call the member service department at (405) 321- 2024 to confirm your account balance.

AVOIDING SCAMS

Whether in person, over the phone or online, always be suspicious of an unknown individual claiming to be an OEC employee and requesting banking or other personal information.

If you’re ever in doubt about a potential energy scam, give us a quick call at (405) 321-2024 so we can assist. OEC wants to help protect you and our community against utility frauds, and by notifying us about potential scams, you can create the first line of defense. We encourage you to report any potential scams so we can spread the word and prevent others in our community from falling victim.

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