North Central Electric Cooperative, Inc. is a member-owned, member-controlled nonprofit electric distribution utility located in Attica, Ohio. North Central Electric is one of 24 electric cooperatives in Ohio.
Beware of Bill Payment Scam
July 11, 2012
As electric bills rise because of summer temperatures, a handful of consumer-members at electric cooperatives have fallen prey to a coast-to-coast telemarketing scam offering bogus help with energy bills.
Co-ops are warning members about the scam in which residents are told that
President Obama will help pay energy bills under a special federal program if
they provide personal information, such as a bank routing number or their Social
“We urge our members to guard their personal accounting and banking
information and never share this information with family, friends or strangers,”
said a message on the website of Mid-Carolina Electric
Six members at the Lexington, S.C., co-op were bilked, and a few even had
power cut off as a result, said Eddie Richardson, vice president for member
services. In one instance, the co-op blocked a bank routing number given to a
consumer who had provided a Social Security number.
“They were thinking their bill was paid without checking with us to be sure,”
said Richardson, who notified the state’s department of consumer affairs about
the incidents. “Others called us, saying they didn’t get credit on their
Better Business Bureaus in several states also have issued consumer warnings,
as well as attorneys general in Mississippi, North Carolina and Arizona and
“We have taken hundreds of calls at this point, probably topping 1,000, from
Mississippi residents concerning this scam,” said Jan Schaefer, a spokeswoman at
the state’s attorney general office.
It’s unknown how many have lost money, and the cases are under investigation,
“Many of those callers have indicated to us that they turned over personal
identifying information after talking to a person they believed was offering
them help paying their bills.”
At Southern Pine Electric Power
Association, a few members also have
fallen victim to the scam, and the Taylorsville, Miss., co-op is trying to help
them, said Dan Davis manager of marketing/public relations.
If their power is cut off for non-payment, “they would have to pay
restoration and connection fees. It could be a very expensive proposition,” said
Davis, who has done outreach via social media and an appearance on a local radio
By: Victoria A. Rocha, ECT Staff Writer
Electric Co-op Today