thieves Devise New Ways to Prey upon Unsuspecting Customers

While there have not been any reports of this particular scam, Habersham Electric Membership Corporation (HEMC) members should be on guard for the latest ploy to obtain quick cash and personal information such as credit card and social security numbers.

“Be aware of callers claiming they are with Habersham EMC and demanding immediate payment or threatening immediate disconnection,” says Susan Baker with Habersham EMC.

While utility scams are nothing new, thieves have created a new con: they manipulate an outgoing telephone number so that on caller ID the call appears to come from an EMC. If a recipient dials the fake number—he or she will hear an on-hold message which mimics a real EMC customer greeting.  Needless to say, the practice can catch consumers unaware since the phone number and greeting appear to be legitimate.

However, according to Baker, consumers should be on high alert regarding any call in which someone claiming to be employed by the EMC demands immediate payment and threatens disconnection. Under these high-pressure circumstances, consumers should never provide payment information to that caller.

“If you have doubts, or if your instincts are telling you to proceed with caution, call the EMC office number provided on your most recent billing statement and speak with one of our customer service representatives,” says Baker.

“These professionals can talk with you about your billing status and discuss payment arrangements where applicable.”

In addition to this most recent trick, there have been limited reports of scammers showing up at a service address in clothing marked with what appears to be EMC logos and attempting to collect a past-due bill and threatening to instantly disconnect service.  According to Baker, no one from an EMC will come to a residence or business and demand payment by debit/credit/gift card or cash.

Because of the mounting threat to consumers, Habersham EMC will continue to work with the Consumer Protection Unit (CPU) of the Georgia Department of Law to report scammers and continue to educate EMC customers via e-mail notifications, newsletters and bill inserts, social media posts, and web site updates, among other communications.   

Habersham EMC is a consumer-owned cooperative providing electricity and related services to more than 25,000 members in Habersham, Hall, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens and White counties.