Phone Scammers Active February 2019
Eastern Maine Electric has heard from some Co-op members who have received fraudulent automated calls claiming to represent Eastern Maine Electric. In this most recent case of fraud, the automated message tells people to press zero to inquire about a product offering. The call is not from EMEC, and fortunately, the recipients of the calls have been alert to the potential for fraudulent phone calls. It is important for EMEC members and all consumers to be alert to the ever-evolving methods used by scam artists. Caller ID can be faked, as can email addresses and texts.
If you think you may be receiving a fraudulent call, it is always okay to confirm that the call is genuine by ending the call and calling the company back. When confirming a call this way, do not use the phone number that appears on your caller ID. Instead, use the phone number from a recent bill, from a phone book, or from the company's website. Eastern Maine Electric employees will not argue if you want to confirm their identity, because we would rather our members be safe than sorry.
Rarely a month goes by that a company or government agency doesn’t have to issue a warning that people may receive fraudulent phone calls or online communication. Rather than keep a list of all the various scams out there, it may help to look instead at two things most scams have in common.
No matter what technology or medium, scammers all have to do two things. They have to get past our defenses as consumers, and they have to keep us distracted. To get past our defenses, they often imitate the familiar, whether it’s an email from a family member, a text from a friend, or a call from a familiar company. They may pose as authority, like a fake letter from a government agency. Scammers are usually not very good at imitations, though. Their work may pass a first glance, but they can’t afford to let us take a closer look.
That’s why they have to keep us distracted. They try to convince us it’s an emergency, and that we need to act immediately. “There’s no time to wait!” They try to create stress, because it’s hard to think clearly when we’re angry, worried, or afraid. The best defense against this scammers is to reject the emergency, stay calm and alert, and take the time to examine the facts.
We can ask ourselves: if these claims are not true, how could I find that out? Is there a source I can check, or someone I can call? If something doesn’t seem right, or if someone is telling us there’s no time to confirm what they’re saying, we shouldn’t give them anything-- including information-- until we’ve checked the story out. If it turns out they’re sincere, they will understand our caution. Scams are nothing new, even if it does seem like they’re suddenly everywhere. Another thing that isn’t new: honest people still live better lives.
Contact: Charlie McAlpin cmcalpin -at- emec-dot-com, (207) 454-1524