Pioneer Electric warns of utility scam

Published 3:04 pm Monday, July 15, 2013

A local utility company is warning its customers about a nationwide utility bill scam.

Pioneer Electric Cooperative says scam artists are calling customers and saying they are behind on their payment and if they don’t pay immediately their services will be disconnected. Many of the scammers, who are posing as customer services representatives for the utility companies such as Pioneer Electric Cooperative, ask the customers to make a payment over the phone with a credit card or to call back to a special number to make a payment.

Angela Green, communications specialist for Pioneer Electric Cooperative, said the company has received a few calls from customers who have been contacted by scam artists.

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Utility customers should be aware this is not a legitimate request and Pioneer Electric does not follow this practice. When Pioneer Electric contacts a member, the representative will always have the members’ account number. Even then, if you are contacted by phone and have any concerns about the validity of the call, it is always appropriate to let the caller know you prefer to call them back at the utility’s published customer service number.

“We do offer payment arrangements for our members who qualify,” Green said. “We do not set up payment arrangements over the phone. Our members have to come into the office to make arrangements.”

Anyone receiving such calls or other forms of contact regarding their utility bill is encouraged to pay close attention to any information – such as the phone number they are asked to call, a number that appears on caller ID, an address where they’re told to send money – and to report the incident and the information to local police and Pioneer Electric.

Pioneer Electric Cooperative said in a news release that switching to electronic billing statements may help protect customers because they don’t have the risk of someone stealing their utility bills from the mailbox or trash.

Customers of Pioneer Electric Cooperative can report fraudulent calls or check on their account by calling 1-800-239-3092.