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Imposter scams are the number one type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission. While scam artists may come to your door posing as a utility worker who works for the “power company,” in today’s more connected world, attempts are more likely to come through an electronic device, via email, phone, or text.
If you suspect or experience a scam, notify your local law enforcement agency. To report a scam or for more information on defending against scams call the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs Identity Theft Unit at 1 (844) TELL DCA (835-5322) or visit consumer.sc.gov and click the Identity Theft Unit tab to learn more.
If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.
Common Types of Scams
Utility scammers can be creative with their fake scenarios, but these are the two most common types: the phone call from a fake representative of your utility company and the in-person scam attempt. There are a few things that should be glaring warning signs. Watch out for them!
Immediate Payment! - A scammer may claim you are overdue on your electric bill and threaten to disconnect your service if you don’t pay immediately. Whether this is done in person, by phone, text, or email, the scammers want to scare you into immediate payment so you don’t have time to think clearly.
If this happens over the phone, simply hang up. If you’re concerned about your bill, call us at 843-538-5700.
Be wary of calls or texts from unknown numbers.
If the scam is by email or text, delete it before taking any action. If you’re unsure, give us a call or use SmartHub to check the status of your account.
Coastal Electric will never attempt to demand immediate payment after just one notice, nor will we ever accept any kind of payment outside of our office.
Refund? - Some scammers may falsely claim you have been overcharged on your bill and say they want to give a refund. It sounds easy. All you have to do is click or press a button to initiate the process. If you proceed, you will be prompted to provide banking or other personal information. Instead of money going into your bank account, scammers can drain your account and use personal information such as a social security number for identity theft.
If this “refund” scam happens over the phone, just hang up and block the phone number to prevent future robocalls. If this scam attempt occurs via email (known as a “phishing” attempt) or by text (“smishing”), do not click any links. Instead, delete it, and if possible, block the sender. If you overpay on your energy bill, CEC will automatically apply the credit to your next billing cycle. When in doubt, contact us.
Knock, knock! - Someone you don't know comes to your door, knocks or rings the, and tells you they work for you Coastal Electric.
They offer to sign you up for a program to lower your electric bills or to purchase products from them. Before you know it, they're asking for a credit card number, banking information, or even your social security number. The most brazen con man may ask for a personal check made out to them or even cash with the promise of those lowered bills or pricey products. Ask them to leave immediately.
An unknown person claiming to be a utility worker who requests banking or other personal information is a con artist, not a CEC employee. We will never ask for information of that kind.
What I.D.? - Never let anyone into your home that you don’t know unless you have a scheduled appointment or reported a problem. CEC employees will always arrive in a clearly marked cooperative vehicle and will be wearing CEC logo apparel. When we perform work on our members’ property or come into your home, our employees are professionals and will always identify themselves.
Defend Yourself Against Scams
We want to help protect our community against utility scams, and you can help create the first line of defense. Please report any potential scams to us so we can spread the word to prevent others in the community from falling victim. You can also sign up for alerts at SmartHub or contact us via Facebook.
Keep It Private
Don't toss documents or bills that contain personal details in the trash. Shred them! Better yet, go paperless. Keep your online accounts private by creating strong passwords that are securely stored, and always log out of websites containing sensitive information when you're done.
Get the Facts
Check your account status online, in our app, or with a call to customer service. If anything is amiss, you'll see what you owe, any notices, and next steps. Coastal Electric will send multiple notices if you miss payments or have an overdue balance, so be sure to check your mail, texts, or email for alerts.
A visitor who says they represent CEC will have I.D. and branded clothing. Ask a caller for an employee identification number and a callback number, then verify that the phone number is CEC's or hang up. Don't give them your personal information, press them to prove they are who they say they are until they give up.