REIDSVILLE — Canoochee Electric Membership Cooperative is warning members of a new telephone scam being reported.
"Be aware of callers claiming they are with Canoochee EMC and demanding immediate payment or threatening immediate disconnection," Joe Sikes with Canoochee EMC said.
While utility scams are nothing new, thieves have created a new con: They manipulate an outgoing telephone number so that on caller ID the call appears to come from an EMC. If a recipient dials the fake number — he or she will hear an on-hold message which mimics a real EMC customer greeting.
"Needless to say, the practice can catch consumers unaware since the phone number and greeting appear to be legitimate," Sikes said.
However, according to Sikes, consumers should be on alert regarding any call in which someone, claiming to be employed by the EMC, demands immediate payment and threatens disconnection. Under these high-pressure circumstances, consumers should never provide payment information.
"If you have doubts, or if your instincts are telling you to proceed with caution, call the EMC office number provided on your most recent billing statement and speak with one of our customer service representatives," Sikes said.
"These professionals can talk with you about your billing status and discuss payment arrangements where applicable."
In addition to this most recent trick, there have been limited reports of scammers showing up at a service address in clothing marked with what appears to be EMC logos and attempting to collect a past-due bill and threatening to instantly disconnect service. According to Sikes, no one from an EMC will come to a residence or business and demand payment by debit/credit/gift card or cash.
Because of the mounting threat to consumers, Canoochee EMC will continue to work with the state consumer regulators and law enforcement to report scammers and continue to educate EMC customers via e-mail notifications, newsletters and bill inserts, social media posts, and web site updates, among other communications.
Canoochee EMC is a consumer-owned cooperative, providing electricity and related services to 15,000 members in Nine area counties including Bryan, Liberty and Long.