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Cooperative members warned to be aware of utility scams


LITTLE ROCK — The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas want to help Arkansans avoid falling victim to energy scams.
Consumers with water, gas and electricity connections are often targets for utility scams. Scammers approach consumers through a variety of means, including phone calls, text messages, emails and even in-person visits. A newer tactic is a digital attack such as disguising a caller identification number or “spoofing” to make the phone number appear to be from a trusted source.
Scammers also use fraudulent websites that look identical to a utility payment webpage. Often these pages are promoted on search engines to trick consumers into clicking and making a payment.
Another scam to be on the lookout for involves calls, texts or emails claiming you overpaid your electric bill and will receive a cash or banking refund.
There are several red flags you can watch for to identify an energy scam:
High-pressure tactics such as creating a sense of urgency by claiming you will be disconnected if a payment is not made immediately;
If someone is pushing unusual payment methods such as gift cards or cryptocurrency;

Poor grammar, spelling errors and odd email addresses; or
Requesting banking information or a social security number over the phone or email.
The 17 local electric distribution cooperatives as part of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas will never demand instant, immediate payment and threaten to disconnect your service without prior notice or warning.
Your local electric cooperative will also never ask for a Social Security number or banking details over the phone or through email. Each locally owned electric cooperative offers several secure payment options.
To help spread awareness, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas encourage consumers to report any potential scams to their local electric cooperative as well as the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-482-8982.
The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides various services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 600,000 members, or customers, in Arkansas and surrounding states.