Grainger Today Editor
NEW MARKET – Appalachian Electric Cooperative (AEC) has recently received several calls regarding utility scams taking place via telephone calls with commercial members.
According to Mitch Cain, director of member services, a caller will identify herself as with AEC disconnect office and demand immediate payment of an overdue electric bill, or risk disconnection of service. The caller will instruct the commercial member to go to a location such a Rite-Aid, Pilot, Walgreens or other store and send the payment via electronic service, often utilizing a Green DOT card.
A callback number is often provided, but the number varies with each incident. The caller will spoof an AEC telephone number, which shows on caller ID as “AEC.” If the member attempts to call the number back, the call will be answered, “AEC.”
Cain said some commercial members have made a fraudulent payment due to these calls.
AEC encourages anyone who receives such a call to just hang up.
Repeated calls can be shared with law enforcement.
Cain recommends individuals should never give personal information to an unknown individual. He said, pause, think and call the Co-op for more clarification. Anyone who receives a call should advise the caller they will call back to the local office, using the local telephone number, during business hours.
“Never send money due to a phone request.” Cain said.
“AEC does not call members (residential or commercial) and demand immediate payment on the spot or threaten immediate disconnection. We do not make disconnections after business hours. Share the message on AEC’s Facebook with all your friends. Once the scam is complete, there is very little the Co-op or local law enforcement can do.”