Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative: Phone scam could affect 10 counties

Published on Saturday, 10 May 2014 00:40 - Written by Phillip Williams, Special Correspondent

GILMER — Gilmer police on Friday warned customers in 10 counties served by the locally based Upshur­ Rural Electric Cooperative against a phone scam in which the caller claims to be a debt collector for the corporation.

The calls have been made from a number bearing a 972 area code, and the caller attempts “to gain personal information and banking information from customers” by pretending to work for a company contracting with Upshur-­Rural as a debt collector, Gilmer police detective Roxanne Warren said in a news release.

“The caller states that the customer’s payment was not received, and in order to continue their electric service without interruption or disconnection, they must make a payment over the phone by providing a debit card or credit card number,” Mrs. Warren said. “At this time, no customers have reported falling victim to the scam,” which the co­op reported to police Friday, she said.

The news release quoted a statement released to police by the cooperative in which Upshur­Rural warns customers they “will not receive personal calls from Upshur­Rural employees trying to obtain your personal or payment data.”

“We do make courtesy calls for various account status updates, including past due amounts; however, these calls involve an automated recording and do not request personal or account information,” the cooperative said.

Any time co­op members are transacting business with URECC, they “can choose to make electronic payments over a telephone, but in those cases they would be transferred to a secure payments line and then only at the member’s request,” the statement said.

Those with questions, or wanting to report suspicious activity, are urged to contact the co­op’s customer care department at 903-843­2536 or 800-259­2536.

Upshur­-Rural has more than 44,000 connected meters in 10 northeast Texas counties: Upshur, Camp, Cass, Gregg, Harrison, Marion, Morris, Rusk, Smith and Wood.