Protecting Yourself from Phone Scams
April 19, 2020
Picture this — you get a phone call saying, “Your electricity will be immediately shut off unless you pay your past-due bill.” You may not think you owe a balance, but the caller sounds convincing and is insisting that you hurry and make a payment. What should you do in this situation?
If you get a call like this, here are some things you can do:
- Contact Union Power directly at 704-289-3145 for questions or concerns regarding your payment or billing information. Don’t call any number the caller gave you. Also, know your utility bill payment options—online, by phone, mobile app, automatic bank drafts, mail, or in-person.
- Never provide or confirm personal information (Social Security number, date of birth) or financial information (banking account information, debit or credit card information) to anyone initiating contact with you claiming to be someone from Union Power.
- Take your time. If someone calls saying you have to pay your bill immediately to avoid disconnection, tell them you would like to verify that they are a legitimate Union Power representative by calling a verified number for the co-op. Beware of a caller exhibiting impatience, annoyance, or anger when you question their authority. Notice if their emotion intensifies when you ask to speak with their manager, request their phone number, or offer to call back later.
- Always ask questions. Ask the person calling you to provide you with your account number, your last payment amount, date of payment, and his/her employee identification number. If he/she is a legitimate Union Power representative, this information will be readily accessible. If not, hang up and call a Union Power customer service representative.
- Report the scam. Write down details of the scammer’s request, including the name they provided you, the date and time you spoke with them, their caller ID number, the method and amount of payment they requested, any phone number they requested you call to pay your bill,and any other details that might aid in a possible criminal investigation. If you already paid, you should also tell the payment provider — such as the wire transfer or credit card company. You may not get your money back, but it’s important to tell them about the scam.
Scammers are constantly updating their tactics, and you can never be too careful when it comes to your personal and financial safety. We ask that you protect yourself and pass on information about impostor utility scams to people you know. If you have questions about a call you received from someone claiming to be a Union Power representative, call our office at 704-289-3145, to verify who you’re talking to.