Avoid Falling Victim to Scams This Holiday Season

Tips can help customers recognize and resist scammers

As Starkville residents gear up for the holiday season, they should be aware that scammers are also preparing for their busiest time of year. Starkville Utilities is helping customers avoid fraudulent schemes online, on the phone and in person by recognizing suspicious behaviors, including scammers posing as utility employees.

“Starkville Utilities is committed to protecting our customers’ account information and communicating professionally in all of our interactions,” said Terry Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities. “That’s why it helps to review the protocols we follow so customers can tell when they’re dealing with scammers who are trying to steal their money and personal data.”

Scammers often use pressure tactics and threaten service disconnections unless bill payments are made immediately. Starkville Utilities never demands immediate payment or banking information by email or phone or accepts payments using prepaid or gift cards.

If customers receive a call from someone using these tactics, they should hang up and contact Starkville Utilities at 662-323-3133. Scammers may appear on caller ID as though they are calling from Starkville Utilities (or another legitimate business). When in doubt, do not provide personal information and hang up.

Starkville Utilities employees never go door to door collecting money from customers or performing “energy checks.” They travel in marked vehicles, wear clothing that associates them with Starkville Utilities and carry photo identification cards.

These additional facts and reminders will help customers avoid scams and protect their personal data during the holidays and throughout the year:

  • Starkville Utilities offers several ways to pay utility bills that are safe and secure:
    • By mail
    • Online using echecks or credit cards
    • Automatic bank draft
    • In-person or via drop box at 200 N. Lafayette Street.
  • Do not let suspicious individuals into your home! Call 911 immediately if you feel unsafe for any reason.
  • Never give out personal or banking information by email or phone, including social security number, date of birth and your Starkville Utilities account number.
  • Starkville Utilities does not request confidential information over email or by phone. However, our customer service representatives may ask customers for information to verify their identity if they call Starkville Utilities.
  • When necessary, Starkville Utilities calls customers to remind them about overdue bill payments. Representatives never request payment during these calls.
  • Never click on links in unsolicited emails.
  • Do not pay bills with gift cards, cash reload cards, cryptocurrency (e.g., bitcoin) or wire transfers.
  • Before shopping online, secure all financial accounts with strong passwords and use different passwords for each account.
  • Check bank and credit card statements routinely, including after making online purchases and in the weeks following the holiday season.
  • Be wary of promotions and giveaways that request your personal information.
  • Before donating to any charity, verify that they have a valid taxpayer identification number by visiting their website or calling the charity directly.
“Communicating more with customers and providing information that adds value to their service is part of our Renew Principle commitment,” Kemp said. “We encourage customers to share these tips with family and friends to raise awareness and avoid scams.”

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.

We are a Water and Electric Utilities Company in Starkville