LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 23, 2020) – Electric cooperatives across Kentucky are reporting a surge in scammers attempting to exploit Kentuckians amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began its spread, consumer-members in at least six electric cooperative service areas across Kentucky have reported receiving calls from someone claiming to work for the local electric co-op and threatening to disconnect service without immediate payment.
In March, the Kentucky Public Service Commission issued an order that halts disconnections for non-payment and fees for late payments. The PSC cautioned that these temporary measures do not relieve customers of the obligation to ultimately pay bills in full, and co-ops have been working with their members on deferred payment plans and other assistance to ease the transition once the pandemic has passed.
Coops urge members to avoid arranging payment or divulging account or personal information, including debit or credit card information, over the phone unless you are certain you are speaking to your utility. If you are unsure, hang up and call the publicly listed number for the utility. When making online payments to your electric provider, always double-check to ensure that you are on the correct website before submitting credit card information.
Kentuckians who suspect a scamming attempt should contact their utility and the Kentucky Attorney General’s office:
Online scam reporting form: ag.ky.gov/scams
Consumer Protection Hotline: 1-888-432-9257
Below are some tips Kentuckians should follow to protect themselves:
- Do not assume the name and number on your caller ID are legitimate. Caller IDs can be spoofed.
- Never share your personal information, including date of birth, Social Security number or banking account information.
- Never wire money to someone you don’t know.
- Do not click links or call numbers in unexpected emails or texts – especially those asking for your account information.
- Most utilities will NOT require their customers to purchase prepaid debit cards or money orders to avoid an immediate disconnection.
- If you receive a call that sounds like it may be a scam, or if you believe the call is a scam, hang up, call the police, report the incident to your local utility, and report the call to the Attorney General’s Office.
About Kentucky Electric Cooperatives:
Kentucky’s electric cooperatives serve more than 1.5 million people – about 35% of the state’s population – in 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. The statewide association provides representation before the General Assembly, Congress, and regulatory bodies: safety training; coordination of management training; and public relations support including publication of Kentucky Living magazine. Kentucky Electric Cooperatives is governed by a board consisting of one manager and one director from each of its 26 member systems and is headquartered in Louisville.