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Clay Electric commercial account targeted by scammers

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Aug. 26 – Clay Electric Cooperative is warning its commercial accounts and business owners to be aware of scams being attempted by persons who demand immediate payment of delinquent bills.

The co-op said in a press release that within the past week, a business owner in Alachua County was scammed by someone claiming that an immediate payment of a power bill was required or the account would be shut off.

The caller told the business owner the bill could be paid using a Green Dot MoneyPaks payment card. Green Dot MoneyPak cards are reloadable debit cards, available at many locations, and can be used to pay phone, cable, or credit card bills. Scammers use the MoneyPak cards because they are more convenient than a money wire and difficult to trace.

“If you’re a business owner and someone calls claiming they’re with the power company and they need payment of a delinquent bill today, that is a big red flag,” said Clay Electric’s Bruce McHollan, director of the co-op’s Information and Communication Technology Department.

“If you are at all suspicious of someone claiming they’re with the power company and payment must be made today, hang up and call Clay Electric at 800-224-4917,” McHollan said.

There have been other recent scam attempts directed at businesses in Clay, Putnam and Lake counties.

Clay Electric encourages the businesses it serves to be very suspicious of anyone who calls and claims he or she represents the co-op and wants to be paid for an overdue bill. The cooperative does not collect past due amounts in this manner. A reminder letter is sent and an automated reminder call is placed when bills are past due.

Members with residential accounts have also been subject to scam attempts during the past year that involved emails. Clay Electric does not send emails that threaten or require immediate action to provide personal information.

“We urge our members to ignore suspicious requests for personal information such as bank account numbers, credit card numbers, user names and passwords, or Social Security numbers,” said Derick Thomas, director of the co-op’s Member and Public Relations Department. “We ask our members to delete all suspicious emails that require immediate action to verify or provide personal information.”

“If a member has an overdue bill, he or she will likely receive a call from our automated phone messaging system as a reminder to call the cooperative to arrange payment. They’ll also receive a courtesy notice in the mail,” Thomas said. “Members should not share confidential personal information over the phone.”

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