It’s a trend that is becoming all too familiar — every day, millions of Americans are targeted by scammers through phone calls, emails, text messages, online or in person. Scammers will try just about anything to get money or personal information! Sadly, pretending to work for or represent area utilities has become an increasingly common practice.
As a rule of thumb: beware of scams asking for personal information or immediate payment, and NEVER click on a suspicious link or attachment. If the knock at your door says they are partnered with or represent MVEA, call us at 1-800-388-9881 to verify. We do not need to enter your home or need pictures of your billing information. Please send the person at your door away if you have any doubts.
Scammers’ tactics can change daily, which is why it’s important to stay on top of the latest scam trends. We want you to be aware of three scam tactics that have been reported by utility customers across the country.
One is the overpayment trick, where a scammer contacts you and claims that you overpaid your utility bill. The scammer will say they need your personal banking information to deposit the credit back to your checking account. Don’t fall for this scam. If you make an overpayment on your energy bill, MVEA will automatically apply the credit to your account, which will carry over to your next billing cycle.
Another trending scam is smishing (short for SMS phishing). While most people know to watch out for suspicious emails, we tend to trust text messages sent to our smartphones. Always question suspicious texts, including ones claiming to represent a utility. MVEA will only send you important updates via text if you’ve signed up for outage SmartAlertsTM or opted into automated account alerts through SmartHub.
The third scam is an “oldie” with a modern twist: the phone call demanding immediate payment with a credit card, gift card, or confirmation of a wire transfer — but this time the phone call looks like it comes from MVEA (even on caller ID). Don’t fall for this tricky scam tactic! While MVEA will reach out to members to discuss payment arrangements if they fall behind, we will not demand payment in the form of a gift card and we will not ask members to wire money to a specific person.
Here are a few ways to take control of the situation when you’ve been targeted by a scammer:
- Take your time. Utility scammers try to create a sense of urgency so you’ll act fast and hand over personal information, especially over the phone. Take a moment to think about the situation before acting.
- Be suspicious. Scammers typically request immediate payments through prepaid debit cards or third-party apps. Unusual requests like this should raise red flags. Remember, if the request seems strange and out of the ordinary, you’re likely being targeted by a scammer.
- Confirm before you act. If you’re contacted by someone claiming to represent MVEA but you’re unsure, just hang up the phone and call us directly. Do not assume the name and number on your caller ID are legitimate. Caller IDs can be spoofed. You can reach us at (800) 388-9881 to verify the situation. We can provide you the status of your account, and you can alert us to the fact that someone is trying to run a utility scam in our area.
Our increasingly connected world provides scammers with more opportunities to connect with unsuspecting utility customers. Be vigilant and please report any utility scams to MVEA so we can let others in our community know.