OKEECHOBEE — Once again, we have a scam circulating the area. This one relates to fake representatives from the “power company” telling customers they are behind on payments and power will be shut off any moment if the bill is not paid.
The scammers are utilizing the phone calls this time, but scammers often use these types of threats via email or by text as well.
Multiple individuals took to Facebook this week to warn their neighbors about this threat. Carol Hotmire posted, “SCAM alert: I answered a call thinking it was from a doctor's office. Instead, it was a call telling me my electric was ordered to be cut off for non-payment. I chose to speak to a representative. Company name completely garbled of course. And, I have a current receipt for my PAID bill. They knew my name even though I did not give it. They have an address that I have not lived at for nearly 13 years. When I told them that, they hung up on me. Twenty-five calls later, all I can get is a busy signal. Just be aware! I worry about our seniors.”
Hotmire’s post was immediately greeted with responses from those who have had similar experiences.
Colleen Hadden-Thomas said, “I received one yesterday also. Approximately one hour went by with them constantly calling and saying the tech was in the area to lock my meter. I knew my bill was due, but they said my account was being locked due to nonpayment. They instructed me to go to the Sunoco station on 441 SE and use the kiosk to pay my bill with cash only. I reported it to the sheriff's department.”
Nicole Kennedy wrote, “We got a call like that yesterday at work! We panicked and called the owner, and he said he had no bill due. It was bizarre.”
Even elected officials are not exempt from scam attempts as Commissioner Bradley Goodbread illustrated with his post, “I had the same call, said they were going to turn my power off in 30 minutes if I didn't pay my electric bill! I asked them which electric company he was representing, and he said, ‘Duke Energy.’ I just hung up.”
Many of those posting expressed concern for the elderly in the community, worrying they might fall for the scams, but at least one poster seemed insulted by this idea, writing, “ I am a senior citizen, please do not think that makes me dumber than you because you are younger.”
Several advised anyone receiving the call to contact the sheriff’s department, and one woman suggested asking the Sunoco Station to put a sign on the ATM machine warning of the scam, but the consensus is to just hang up. If you are in doubt, call your power company directly and ask them about your bill. Never call the number given by the person calling you. Never click on a link sent through text or email regarding this type of thing, and NEVER, under any circumstances buy a gift card and give a bill collector the numbers over the phone. This is ALWAYS a scam.