Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Santee Electric Co-op has received notice from several members about a bill payment scam going on in the area. According to a press release, co-op members are reporting they are receiving calls asking for immediate payment or their lights will be disconnected.
The calls are fraudulent and have nothing to do with the co-op. "We want our members to know this is a scam and to be careful not to give out any financial information over the phone," said Adrel S. Langley, manager of community relations in the release. "SEC sends out bills in the mail or by email and does not call demanding payment. We advise our members to go online and look at their account if they have any question about its status."
Santee Electric is working with law enforcement to make sure the scammers are prosecuted. However, Langley says it is very important to always be vigilant. "It is always good to keep this kind of thing fresh on people's minds because you never know when it is going to happen and I'm sure these folks sound very convincing."
For more information visit the website at santee.org.
In a separate matter, a sharp-eyed Kingstree resident notified police of a possible scam and his instincts were right on. The scam was in the form of a postcard telling the resident that he was eligible to receive $100 in gift savings good at Wal-Mart or Target simply by calling a toll-free number.
Walmart (notice the correct spelling as opposed to the card's) does offer a survey, which is advertised on random receipts in their stores. The customer can choose to enter a sweepstakes, which offers five winners gift cards. However, the survey is only online and customers are only offered entry through register receipts, not via phone, text, or email.
The language in the postcard sent to the Kingstree man said they were trying to reach him about his "unclaimed" reward. And even he was a winner in the legitimate survey he would have been notified via certified mail or by phone call, not by postcard.
The alert citizen was smart: paying attention to the details on the postcard. One dead giveaway was the miss-spelling of the business. Other signs of fraud to look for are poor grammar.
In the case of online offers, one must practice the same diligence. Outdated logos (Wal-Mart) and the "Fine Print" at the bottom of the page will often disclose that the offer is not associated with the brand listed. In fact, Walmart does not offer gift cards via email or text message, or for "likes" or sharing on social media. For more information about Walmart policy on these matters visit walmart.com and click on the link "Privacy & Security" at the bottom of the page.
If you believe you have received anything fraudulent, the best thing to do is contact the postal service. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has a law enforcement branch dedicated to matters of this nature. For more information call 1-877-876-2455 or visit postalinspectors.uspis.gov.