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Nov. 16 is Utilities United Against Scams Day

Flint Energies is proud to stand today with fellow gas/water/electric companies, to observe the inaugural Utilities United Against Scams Day (UUAS) on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, and raise awareness about utility scams throughout the week.

Most utility scams involve criminals posing as electric, gas or water provider employees—either in person or over the phone or internet—and demanding immediate payment via cash or reloadable debit cards, ostensibly in order to prevent service disconnection. These unscrupulous criminals can be very convincing, and often target those who are most vulnerable, including the elderly and non-native English speakers. However, with the right information, members can learn to avoid and report these predatory scams.

Members who believe they have been targeted by utility scammers should follow these tips:

•           Hang up the phone or close the door, and call Flint Energies at 800-342-3616. You can find our direct phone numbers at www.flintenergies.com or on your utility bill.

•           Do not give the caller or visitor a prepaid card, such as a Green Dot card, a wire transfer, or any other form of payment that may be difficult to trace.

•           Ignore suspicious requests for personal information such as bank account numbers, user names and passwords, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers.

•           Delete any emails from utilities that are not your service provider.

•           Delete all suspicious emails that require immediate action to verify or demand personal information.

•           Contact your local police through the non-emergency telephone number, or contact the FTC: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

UUAS is a collaborative effort among the nation’s electric, gas, and water utility industries to help prevent utility service fraud through education, awareness, and member advocacy initiatives. A primary goal of this collective effort is to help members learn how to identify and avoid utility-related scams. The collaborative encourages the public to share these messages to help guard against scam activity.

            Under the scam, a member receives an unsolicited phone call from an individual who falsely claims to be a Flint Energies representative. The scammer warns that Flint will disconnect the electric service if payment is not made – usually within a short timeframe.

Scammers have even duplicated the Flint Energies upfront Interactive Voice Response system, so when members call back phone numbers provided by the scammer, it sounds like a legitimate phone number. Some of these criminals also use caller ID spoofing to replicate the Flint Energies member service number.

 

More Red flags for scam activity:

•           The thief becomes angry and tells the member his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected if a large payment isn’t made – usually in less than an hour.

•           The thief instructs the member to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card or an iTunes card – widely available at retail stores – then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment.

•           The scammer asks the member for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.

 

How to protect yourself:

•           Flint Energies never asks or requires a member with a delinquent account to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.

•           Members can make payments online, by phone, using the phone app, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.

•           Members with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification with the regular monthly billing – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.

•           If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, hang up and call the local police. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.

 

About Flint Energies

Flint Energies is a not-for-profit cooperative owned by thousands of members in parts of 17 central Georgia counties. Flint directly employs 233 employees and serves more than 88,400 electric meters. We are 100% locally-controlled and democratically governed by 11 members elected from among the membership. In 1937, Flint Energies was created to bring people together to meet common needs like reliable electric energy, and our mission remains focused on improving the quality of life in Middle Georgia.

 

This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

 

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Follow Flint on Twitter at twitter.com/flintenergies

Flint Energies online at www.flintenergies.com

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