CEO’s Message – March 2023

Don’t Fall Victim to Utility Scams

Headshot of Clay FitchEvery day, millions of Americans are targeted by scammers through phone calls, emails, text messages, online or in person. Scammers’ tactics can change daily, so it’s important for consumers to stay on top of the latest scam reports from local and national news outlets and your local utility companies.

In mid-February, several Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) members were targeted through a phone scam where the scammers demanded immediate payment and threatened to shut off power. Remember, if your account becomes delinquent, you will receive a reminder by mail or email, and there will be a past-due balance on your next bill. You will also receive an automated call asking you to contact your local office. WREC will never call you and demand immediate payment without prior notice.

We want you to be aware of 3 trending scam tactics. One is the overpayment trick, where a scammer contacts you and claims you have overpaid your utility bill. The scammer will say they need your personal banking information to deposit the credit to your checking account. Don’t fall for this scam! If you overpay on your energy bill, WREC will automatically apply the credit to your account, which will carry over to your next billing cycle.

Another trending scam comes as a text. Many consumers know to watch for suspicious emails, but we tend to trust text messages sent to our smartphones. Always question suspicious texts, especially from someone claiming to represent a utility. WREC will only send you important updates via text if you’ve signed up for our SmartHub app.

Most recently, a person pretending to be a WREC employee called members and threatened that their power would be shut off if they didn’t pay by calling a toll-free number. When one member said they would call the local office, the scammer falsely claimed that the phone number had changed. Scammers keep changing their approach, so watching for any red flags is important. If you receive a call claiming to be WREC that you aren’t expecting, please contact your local office using the phone numbers published on this page.

Here are a few reminders on how to take control of the situation when a scammer has targeted you:

Take your time. Utility scammers try to create a sense of urgency so that 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 WREC or another utility, but you’re unsure, hang up the phone and call the utility directly. Our increasingly connected world provides scammers more opportunities to connect with unsuspecting consumers. Be vigilant, and please report any utility scams to WREC so we can let others in our community know. Together, we can help prevent our friends and neighbors from being victimized.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Office