SLED asked to investigate phone scam targeting utility customers |
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is asking the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate a reported phone scam targeting utility customers statewide.
The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina asked Wilson to look into the scheme after customers complained they were getting calls from people claiming to be employees of the co-ops.
SCSC officials say customers are getting calls from someone claiming to be a cooperative employee, warning the customer that their utility service will be disconnected unless they receive an immediate payment. The customer is directed to buy a prepaid debit card and call a toll-free number to deliver the serial code listed on the card. Once the information is provided, the scammer can access the money loaded onto the card.
The co-ops said initial complaints suggested scam operators were systematically targeting the state’s Hispanic communities. But recently, the calls were made to small business owners and restaurants.
“Due to the volume of complaints, I have asked SLED to open a formal investigation,” said Wilson. “I believe this is a prudent step to help protect unsuspecting consumers.”
“It’s vitally important cooperative members know that we will never call them and ask them to share personal information over the phone,” said Tom Upshaw, president and CEO of Palmetto Electric Cooperative in Ridgeland. “In addition, notice is sent to our members before we disconnect services. If you receive one of these suspicious phone calls, you should hang up and contact your local law enforcement.”
- Electric cooperatives will not call or email customers asking for an account number or password. Do not share this information with anyone.
- Do not assume you can trust caller ID to let you know where the caller is located. Scammers are using new technology that disguises their actual location.
- Electric cooperatives will not contact customers by phone to discuss the termination of service. If you receive a phone call saying your electricity is being disconnected, hang up and call law enforcement immediately.
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