Don’t Become a Victim of a Scam!
By Judy Barten, CFO
Every few months, DS&O receives a call from a member telling us that someone is posing as a DS&O employee demanding payment of the member’s electric bill. These scammers work year-round, but they are most active in the winter and summer months, when people can’t go without heat or air conditioning.
When you receive a call threatening to shut off your electric service in just a few minutes because of an unpaid bill, you pay attention. That’s why telephone fraudsters impersonate utility employees — they can rush you into making a payment before you have a chance to think about it.
“From what we hear, the pitch is pretty scary and very high pressure to pay immediately — by wire transfer, debit card, even gift cards — or they’re going to turn off service within the hour,” said Katherine Hutt, director of communications with the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB).
If your account is past due, please know that DS&O will send a written notice of your account status, giving you ten days to pay your bill or contact the office to work out a payment arrangement to avoid disconnection of service.
A DS&O representative may call a member whose bill is in arrears to remind them that a payment is due, but the caller will not demand payment over the phone, in person, or at a location other than the DS&O office or its payment centers at Farmers State Bank in Lindsborg or Propane Central in Junction City. In fact, any call from DS&O will most likely be an automated call alerting you to the fact that DS&O will be disconnecting for non-pay and give the date of the disconnection if payment is not received.
DS&O does not accept prepaid debit cards or wire transfers as payment of your electric bills, and its representatives will not ask you to give your bank information or credit card number over the phone. If you wish to pay by credit card, DS&O representatives will transfer your call to an automated payment center to protect your privacy.
If you receive a suspicious call, you should:
Hang up immediately.
Be aware that scammers often use caller ID spoofing software to misrepresent the source of a phone call or they will provide you with a fake "verification" phone number. These call-back numbers may even include exact replicas of company greetings. If you would like to verify your account status, always call DS&O at 800-376-3533, or log into your account via www.dsoelectric.com.
If a person appears at your door demanding payment, do not allow them into your home, and do not provide them any personal information. DS&O employees wear a shirt with the DS&O logo and name tag. Have them wait outside while you contact the office to verify the person is an employee of DS&O.
If you believe you have been a victim of this scam, please contact your local police department or your state attorney general’s office.