January 4, 2024
Starkville Utilities is urging customers to be aware of people posing as utility employees with the apparent motive to rob or swindle them.
Individuals pretending to be utility representatives have attempted in recent days to obtain financial data by sending emails to customers claiming they have overpaid Starkville Utilities and requesting completion of forms to receive credit. In other cases, scammers have attempted to collect payments for electric bills by calling customers and stating utility crews are on the way to disconnect electric service unless the person makes a payment over the phone.
“We do everything we can to help our customers avoid scams and attempts to steal their money and personal information,” said Edward Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities. “Scammers are getting more sophisticated and aggressive, which means we need to stay vigilant and learn how to recognize and avoid their tactics.”
How can you tell if someone may be scamming you? They often contact you unexpectedly and create a sense of urgency.
The most common utility scam occurs when the fraudster calls and tells you that your electric bill payment is past due, and that your service will be disconnected if payment isn’t made right away. Although the scam can differ, you are frequently directed to transfer funds electronically, sometimes through “MoneyPak,” “Green Dot” or another third-party card or transfer system.
Other efforts include insisting on an immediate deposit for a new meter, sending phishing emails that sometimes include realistic looking fake utility bills or going door-to-door posing as utility employees to collect payments. Scammers also have asked customers to use Federal Reserve Bank routing numbers and Social Security numbers to pay bills.
“If there is ever an overpayment, it will be credited to the account,” said Kemp. “In instances where there is a remaining balance on an account that is being terminated, we will mail a refund check to the customer at the address associated with the account.”
Customers can avoid becoming victims by remembering these facts:
Only pay your bill through one of Starkville Utilities safe and secure methods:
“Scammers often prey on vulnerable individuals who may not be aware of their tricks and tactics,” Kemp said. “We encourage our customers to share these tips with family members and friends to raise awareness and prevent them from being victimized.
“Remember, you do not have to sign anything or give personal information to anyone calling you on the phone, sending you an email or showing up at your door,” he said. “If you feel something is not quite right about the situation, call 911 and Starkville Utilities immediately.”
Starkville Utilities is a public utility serving 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville, Mississippi as well as Mississippi State University. Its mission is to supply safe, reliable, and cost-effective electric and water service of superior quality and value that improves the lives of its customers.