Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation (UCEMC) cautions members to be on alert for a telephone scam that is plaguing UCEMC’s service areas.
Scam artists are calling a home or business posing as a co-op or utility employee and threatening to shut off service unless the consumer provides immediate payment using a credit card. The caller may also request that members call a 1-888 number to provide their credit card information.
“The calls sound official, and the caller ID may even display the utility name,” says Jimmy Gregory, General Manager of UCEMC. Caller ID spoofing is the practice of causing the telephone network to indicate to the receiver of a call that the originator of the call is a station other than the true originating station. For example, a Caller ID display might display a phone number different from that of the telephone from which the call was placed. The term is commonly used to describe situations in which the motivation is considered malicious by the speaker or writer. “This scam is particularly harmful to consumers because there is no way to track or recover the money.”
Officials stress that UCEMC will:
•NEVER call members to request credit card, banking or other financial information over the telephone.
•NEVER call members threatening immediate disconnection unless a payment is made. Some co-ops do give members with a first time delinquent account a courtesy call prior to disconnection.
•NEVER ask to enter your home unless you initiate the request for co-op personnel to perform a specific service. Co-ops do this only by appointment and with a member’s prior knowledge.
“We are asking co-op members to be wary of any phone calls,” Gregory says. “If in doubt, hang up immediately, and contact your local UCEMC District Office at: Carthage 615-735-2940; Cookeville 931-528-5449; Gainesboro 931-268-2123; Livingston 931-823-1213 or 800-261-2940. Be certain you are dealing with an official representative of the cooperative.”
UCEMC is a cooperative owned by its members. It distributes electric power through more than 4,500 miles of lines to more than 47,000 meters located primarily in Jackson, Overton, Putnam, Smith Counties and northern DeKalb County, with additional members served in the fringe areas of Clay, Fentress, Macon, Pickett, White and Wilson. Visit www.ucemc.com to learn more.