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Thieves Devise New Ways to Prey upon Unsuspecting Customers

Southern Rivers Energy members should be on guard for the latest ploy to obtain quick cash and personal information such as credit card and social security numbers.

“Be aware of callers claiming they are with Southern Rivers Energy selling security systems or threatening disconnection if an immediate payment isn't made on the account,” says Erin Cook with Southern Rivers Energy.

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 SRE customer greeting.  Needless to say, the practice can catch consumers unaware since the phone number and greeting appear to be legitimate.

"One of our members reported receiving a call from what appeared to be Southern Rivers Energy on the caller ID but when she answered and began speaking with the person, they began asking personal questions and attempted to get her to purchase a security system using her credit or debit card. Needless to say, SRE does not sell security systems and thankfully this member recognized the scam before it was too late."

Consumers should be on high 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 to that caller.

“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,” says Cook.

“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 Cook, 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, Southern Rivers Energy will continue to work with the Consumer Protection Unit (CPU) of the Georgia Department of Law to report scammers and continue to educate EMC customers via newsletters and bill inserts, social media posts, and web site updates, among other communications.  

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