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Clay warns members about new nationwide email scam

Clay Electric is warning its members that a new nationwide scam is targeting utility customers through email. Utilities around the nation are reporting that some of their customers have received bogus email bill statements.

Although Clay Electric hasn’t received reports of members receiving emails that solicit payments or request personal information, the co-op is urging its members to be aware and alert.

“Members should delete any suspicious emails and not click on any links that may accompany the emails,” said Derick Thomas, director of Clay Electric’s Member Public Relations Department.

According to Thomas, Clay Electric does not send emails that threaten or require immediate action to provide personal information.

“We urge our members to ignore suspicious requests for personal information such as bank account numbers, credit card numbers, user names and passwords, or Social Security numbers,” Thomas said. “We ask our members to delete all suspicious emails that require immediate action to verify or provide personal information.”

Recently, Clay Electric has received reports that two commercial accounts it serves in Clay County were the target of attempted scams. The two businesses reported that someone claiming to represent the co-op contacted them about making payment on an overdue bill. In one case, a payment for more than $2,000 was requested, and the caller wanted the money “wired.”

Clay Electric encourages the businesses it serves to be very suspicious of anyone who calls and claims he or she represents the co-op and wants to be paid for an overdue bill. The cooperative does not collect past due amounts in this manner.

“If the caller asks you to wire money or use a prepaid debit card, that’s a red flag,” said Bruce McHollan, director of Clay’s Information and Communication Technology Department. “If you have any doubt at all, hang up and call Clay Electric at 800-224-4917 and confirm if any payment is due. Clay Electric sends a reminder letter and makes an automated reminder call when bills are past due.”

The co-op’s residential members have also been targeted lately by scammers. In November, a member in the Lynne area received a call from someone claiming to be from Clay Electric who was attempting to collect a past due bill related to a recent rate increase. In another incident, a member was approached at home by two men who told the member they were contractors for Clay Electric and they were there to check her windows. She called Clay Electric and was told Clay doesn’t have contractors “checking windows” and that she should call the sheriff’s office. The two men left the area.

“If a member has an overdue bill, he or she will likely receive a call from our automated phone messaging system as a reminder to call the cooperative to arrange payment. They’ll also receive a courtesy notice in the mail,” Thomas said. “Members should not share confidential personal information over the phone.”

Thomas said Clay field personnel wear uniforms and carry identification, and can be asked for ID if members have any questions about who they represent. Contractors working for Clay are also properly identified and can provide ID if asked. Clay Electric also does not call its members to solicit home visits to check on windows or other items.