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.
We always make sure to notify our members when a scam that may affect them comes to our attention. Please check the "Scam Alert" box below for notice of any ongoing scams.
More About Utility Scams
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.
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.
Use Trusted Sources
If you find yourself in a situation like these that feels suspicious, know that you can always reach out to us. We will be able to tell you if the communications you received were from us or if they were fraudulent. Spammers do whatever they can to disguise themselves - they may spoof our phone number so your caller ID will look like ours, use fake email addresses showing a sussexrec.com account, or wear our logo on their clothing. No matter what they do, by making suspicious request outside of SREC's usual operating procedure, they reveal their true intentions. The best way to get confirmation is to call us at our office, where a real Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative employee can confirm whether you spoke to another employee or a likely scammer.
Similarly, when paying your bill only make use of our own websites, www.sussexrec.com and www.srecbillpay.com. Other payment websites exist that will accept payment for a member's utility bill and turn it over to us to cover your balance, but this only occurs after a delay and after charging the member a payment fee. One of the more well-known examples of this kind of website among our membership is Doxo. We encourage our members to avoid third-party payment sites like these in order to avoid losing extra money in fees.
What To Do If You're Targeted
If you are contacted by someone claiming to represent Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative and trying to coerce you into immediate payment, you may have been targeted by a scammer. Use the information provided here on this page to determine if their request, whether it comes in person, over the phone, or online, is suspicious or unusual for SREC. If you suspect that you've been contacted by a scammer, we encourage you to collect as much information as possible without putting your own personal information at risk.
When possible, contact us by calling our office at 973-875-5101 to let us know of the scammer's attempts. We rely on our members to be able to recognize a scammer at work and provide us with information about these sorts of scams so we can notify the rest of our membership. Providing us with all details of your interaction with a scammer can help us protect more vulnerable members who are often targeted from falling victim to these types of scams.