Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation and targeting utility customers

Covington Electric Cooperative is warning its members of potential scammers acting as utility representatives looking to defraud people and gather personal information.

A case was shared by the Alabama Emergency Management Agency on March 18, 2020 about scammers contacting Alabama Power customers over the phone who are acting as a utility employee and threatening to cut off services if the customer does not cooperate with their demands of immediate payment. The scammer tells the customer they are behind in their payments for electric service.

Listed below are RED FLAGS for potential activity that can alert customers to a possible scam. These include:

  • Threatening to disconnect service if payments are not made immediately, usually within an hour
  • Requesting immediate payment, most often using prepaid cards, and asking for the prepaid card number. This gives the scammer instant access to funds that victims often can’t get back.

CEC will never call you and demand immediate payment over the phone and our members always have a variety of ways to pay their electric bill, which is important during this national state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic. These payment methods include; online using our secure website, the CEC App, the 24/7 kiosks in Sanford, Samson or Enterprise; drive thru windows in Sanford and Enterprise during normal business hours; and over the phone using our automated phone service.

It’s important to note that CEC is committed to helping its members get through these uncertain times due to the impact of COVID-19. That’s why the co-op has suspended all service disconnect orders for nonpayment until April 10. Normal cutoff procedures are currently scheduled to resume on April 13. This applies to all accounts, post-pay and pre-pay. The co-op is also waiving fees related to arrangements and late payments during this time period. Payments for electric service are still due by the members’ due dates and CEC encourages all members who are not directly impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic, to pay their bills on time. This will help avoid larger bills during the next billing cycle that could potentially include two months of service.

Regarding the SCAM ALERT: Awareness is the key to protecting yourself in a scam so spread the word about this criminal activity. Remember to call CEC (1-800-239-4121) to report suspicious activity relating to your electric account. People should also contact law enforcement immediately if they believe they have fallen victim to a scam.

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