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Jackson EMC reports scam attempts

Some customers out thousands of dollars

POSTED: November 14, 2013 11:45 p.m.

Scam artists are coming out to play in the colder weather, with Jackson Electric Membership Corp. reporting an increase in scam attempts in its 10-county service area.

“Regrettably, we have had customers who have lost significant sums of money when they comply with these scammers’ requests,” said Director of Customer Service Brent Cochran in a news release.

Bonnie Jones, Jackson EMC spokeswoman, said some of these reports have come from Hall County.

“We don’t really have a number (of how many), because this has been trickling in over time,” Jones said.

The scammers are generally calling customers, telling them their accounts are past due and they have to pay immediately to avoid disconnection. They also request that payments be made in the form of prepaid cards or credit cards.

One customer lost $3,500 in prepaid cards, according to Cochran.

There are some instances when the scammers will even have the account numbers and past bill amounts of the customers, making them seen more valid.

“We have no idea how they would get customers’ account numbers, or their past amounts,” Jones said. “One of the things people should do for identity theft is to make sure if they’re throwing out old bills or bill stubs that they shred them.”

She also said one option is to select wireless billing rather than receiving a paper bill.

“There’s always a risk when you’re handling paper that it could fall into the wrong hands,” she said.

Jackson EMC will never demand payment via a phone call, or threaten immediate disconnection. Customers with past-due amounts are notified via mail.

“I can’t think of any utility company that would ask people to load up prepaid cards and turn them over to them,” Jones said. “When they start hearing that sort of request, that should be a big alarm for them.”

Cochran urges customers who receive these calls to hang up and call the general Jackson EMC number at 800-462-3691.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chad Mann echoed that advice.

“Whenever scammers call or email, simply hang up,” he said. “Delete the email. Do not respond. Do not provide them with any personal information or banking information.”

He said a Hall County resident fell victim to a separate scam this week after applying for a small loan online with what she thought to be a credible company.

Scammers began calling her cellphone immediately, eventually asking the victim to send them money for various reasons.

“In short, the victim realized that she was being scammed when the requests for more money continued each time she sent a round of cash,” Mann said.

“The longer they can string you along, particularly by phone, the more information they can get from you,” he added.


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