Wheatland Electric Cooperative Inc. would like the public to be aware of a scam that is targeting its members.
Scammers call or email Wheatland’s members, telling them that their electric bill is past due and unless they pay right away, their electricity will be disconnected. They often ask the member for a credit card number or instruct the member to immediately purchase a prepaid card, such as MoneyPak, and send the number to the caller.
These types of calls or emails are often difficult to detect prior to answering the call or opening the email because the scammers can make Wheatland’s name appear in the caller ID or in the email address
Recently, a Wheatland member in the Great Bend area was contacted by phone by a scammer claiming to be from Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, Wheatland’s wholesale provider. The member was asked the amount of her electric bill and was told that she needed to pay one third of the bill immediately to avoid being disconnected. The member was then instructed to go to a local convenience store and wire money to an account number.
Wheatland is issuing the following reminders to help keep its members from being a victim of a scam:
• Wheatland never contacts a member by phone to demand immediate payment or threaten disconnection of service. In addition, Wheatland never dictates how a member’s bill is paid. Method of payment is up to the customer.
• Disconnection procedures usually take place over several weeks and after two contacts with the member. When a meter is disconnected, it is done during business hours, and Wheatland employees always identify themselves.
• Sunflower is a wholesale electric provider and does not have end-use members and, therefore, will never contact a member regarding an electric bill.
• Never give out personal information, credit card number, or MoneyPak number during unsolicited phone calls or emails.
• Those who get a suspicious email or phone call should contact their local Wheatland office at 1-800-762-0436 or 620-872-5885.
“While it’s difficult to anticipate all of the tactics that these scammers will use, our goal is to make the public aware that these scams are occurring,” said Bruce Mueller, Wheatland General Manager. “If they know Wheatland’s standard procedures, then anything that deviates from the standards should raise a red flag. If it feels amiss, it probably is, and we encourage our members to contact us.”
For more information visit Wheatland’s website at www.weci.net