Kentucky Electric Cooperatives safety instructors, Randy Meredith, Tony Dempsey and Charlie Lewis introduce us to Farmers RECC lineman, Scotty Mitchell, in the first installment of “Connections”. This new series will highlight many different positions and people in the co-op world.
In recent days, consumer-members of both South Kentucky RECC and Jackson Energy have contacted their co-op to warn about the scam attempts. Some members describe a scam where the caller claims to be with the co-op and that the member’s payments have not worked. The scammer instructs the member to get a “money packet” from a local retail store then call them back with the information.
The Kentucky Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division says it has logged 33 complaints regarding utility-related scams since March. Among those victims who reported financial losses, the total was $14,533.60 in consumer losses. Of the 33 complaints, 20 of the victims self-reported their age as 60 or older.
“While the majority of the complaints we’ve received seem to come from Kentuckians age 60 or older, it’s hard to know if scammers are targeting this age group specifically, or if they are they are simply the age group that is more likely to report,” says Elizabeth Kuhn, Communications Director with the Office of Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
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.
In this week’s safety video, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives Safety instructor, Charlie Lewis, focuses on the proper use, care and inspection of rubber gloves. With their schedule of training and safety talks interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, our safety instructors are releasing weekly videos for local co-op personnel while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Be sure to subscribe to the statewide office’s YouTube channel. The safety team is also conducting live video conferences with local cooperatives by request.
ARLINGTON, Va. (July 1, 2020) – Whitney Duvall, Owen Electric Cooperative (Ky.) Manager of Communications and Marketing has been named the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives® 2020 Brand Champion award recipient.
This annual national honor pays tribute to a brand ambassador who embodies Touchstone Energy’s core values of innovation, integrity, accountability and commitment to community while making exceptional contributions to building the brand on a local level.
Duvall, who has proudly served as the Communications and Marketing Manager of Owen Electric for more than 13 years, was nominated for this year’s award by fellow electric co-op communicator, Sha Phillips, Marketing & Brand Supervisor of East Kentucky Power Cooperative.
In nominating Duvall, Phillips said, “Whitney lives the Touchstone Energy values daily. She puts the co-op members first, listening and responding to them on their changing needs by embracing new ideas and concepts. She actively promotes the importance of Touchstone Energy to co-ops, especially for those co-ops with small member services staff. Her support of the resources is to be commended. As a regional member, I’m proud to call her part of our team of brand champions in Kentucky.”
Michael Cobb, Owen Electric Cooperative President and CEO added, “We are pleased and excited that Whitney has been recognized as this year’s Touchstone Energy Brand Champion Award recipient. Whitney has done an outstanding job promoting Owen Electric and the many benefits of Co-op membership. She always accentuates the very best that Co-ops have to offer and I appreciate her vision and dedication as a communicator.”
“I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the Owen Electric family, and I feel very honored and humbled to be recognized by my peers with this award.” Duvall said. “My job has afforded me the opportunity to be a part of promoting the mission of our rural cooperative—to improve the quality of life for the members we serve through safe, affordable and reliable electricity, while providing an exceptional level of member service.”