Reports of utility scams are rising among West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative members and scammers are moving beyond phone calls to text messages, according to Heather Foley, WKRECC vice president of Finance & Administration.
“Our members are calling us every week to report scammers using the co-op’s name and phone number,” said Foley. She explained that while the details of the calls and texts vary, in the end, the result is always the same: “Someone is trying to scare you into giving them money or to collect your personal information for identity theft.”
Examples of recent scam reports include:
- An automated caller identifies himself/herself as representing West Kentucky Rural Electric and reports the member is due a refund. To claim the refund, the member must press a number to talk to a representative, who then tries to collect personal information or payments.
- The member receives a text message, identified as coming from West Kentucky Electric (or some variation on the name). The member is told their account is overdue and they must click the enclosed link to make a payment to avoid immediate disconnection.
“These scammers are creative and they prey on people under stress,” Foley noted. She said scam reports increased notably following the Dec. 10 tornado, just as they did during the pandemic.
She also reminds members that WKRECC will never call a member with a demand for immediate payment. “We mail past due notices and members due for disconnects receive an automated phone call to make them aware, but that’s all we do,” Foley said.
What can you do to protect yourself?
WKRECC advises members to be very cautious when receiving a call or text that includes a demand. “Slow down, take a deep breath and think before you respond,” Foley said. If the caller makes a demand, just hang up. Don’t engage or ask questions. Never wire money or send reloadable credit/gift cards to people you do not know.
If you are concerned about your WKRECC account, call 877-495-7322 or go to www.wkrecc.com to submit a customer service request.
If you receive a call or text from a scammer, you are encouraged to file a complaint with the Kentucky Attorney General’s office.
The AG site also offers tips for protecting yourself against scams of all kinds.