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Let's Talk About Scams
By: Steve Sokolowski
As a member-owned cooperative, Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative’s mission since 1937 has always been to provide our members with the highest quality of service at the lowest possible price. Our primary interests are always with you, our members. Unfortunately, there are those out there who go to extreme lengths to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers, even pretending to represent their electric cooperative or other credible organizations.
Utility scams are common because of the vast number of utilities that exist, and consumers are understandably anxious at the idea of their utility notifying them of a sudden, unexpected disruption to their service. Secondly, new products and services in the energy industry provide an opening for scammers and pop-up companies to provide misleading information or shady products and services.
Avoid Phone Scams
A common phone scam begins with a phone number that appears to be from a valid utility company, including Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative. The scammer will claim you have a past due account and threaten to disconnect service or take legal action. The scammer will typically demand that you use a prepaid debit card or money order, often within a very short, urgent time frame to pay the “past due” amount.
You can combat this scam by being aware of the status of your account. Never give your banking or personal information over the phone to someone you did not call. If you receive a suspicious call like this, call us directly at 973-875-5101 to report the potential scam. Do not use the phone number given by the scammer. We will be able to confirm with you your account’s standing and notify other members to be wary of scammer activity.
Avoid Solar Scams
Another scam we see from time to time is connected to rooftop solar. Homeowners with rooftop solar may receive a sales call offering an accessory, upgrade, or extended warranty to their solar array. The calls could be from scammers claiming to represent a solar company, promising to replace faulty or broken parts or improve efficiency. Again, if you are not expecting the call, don’t be fooled. These calls offering misleading information are likely a scam. Call the company that installed the solar array if you think there may be a problem. Other than occasional cleaning, rooftop solar (if installed correctly) is virtually maintenance-free.
Use Trusted Sources
If you’re considering solar for your home, make sure you are working with a reputable company. Because this is still an emerging industry with evolving technology, many pop-up companies have appeared in an attempt to make a quick buck. Representatives of rooftop solar companies may have more sales experience than knowledge of the energy industry, and their primary goal could be making a sale and moving on to the next prospect.
While we do not directly offer rooftop solar as a service provided by the Co-op, you can always turn to us as a resource for information on solar and if it is right for you. In this ever-changing environment, it’s important to remember you have a trusted energy advisor – your local electric cooperative. We are a community-focused organization that always puts our members first.
Remember, we’re just one call or click away. If you ever have any questions about your electric service or bills, feel free to reach out – we’re here to help.