Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) has been contacted today by numerous customer-members who have received phone calls from scammers. Scammers may identify themselves as SMECO employees and demand credit card or prepaid debit cards in order to avoid having electric service cut off. Scammers are targeting residential and business accounts. Some SMECO members have reported that the number on their caller ID says SMECO. SMECO members are urged to be cautious when making payments over the phone.

If members receive a phone call from someone threatening to disconnect their power, they may hang up. If they want to verify account information, they can call SMECO directly. SMECO’s customer care center is open 24 hours a day, every day. SMECO’s phone number is 1-888-440-3311, and it’s printed on every customer bill.

The following describes SMECO’s routine for collecting payments.

• SMECO will mail a termination notice if a bill is past due.
• SMECO calls members who owe a past due balance using an automated phone system with a recorded message; rarely will SMECO employees make personal “collection” phone calls.
• Collection calls are made about 10 days before service is to be terminated. SMECO does not require payment at the time of the call.
• Unknown callers who give short deadlines and threaten to cut off service within an hour or two are probably running a scam.
• SMECO does not make collection calls or terminate service on weekends or holidays.
• If service is going to be terminated, a SMECO collector will knock on the member’s door before turning off service.
• SMECO collectors will accept credit card payments, checks, or money orders, but they do not accept cash.

For anyone who believes they have received a fraudulent email or phone call, some basic guidelines follow.

• Customers should use the phone number printed on their monthly bill and only give payment information over the phone if they initiate the contact.
• Customers should not provide personal information, banking information, user names, passwords, or account information to unauthorized callers or in an email.
• Customers should not provide Green Dot, Western Union, or Moneygram payments to unauthorized callers.
• Customers should never meet unauthorized callers at a local store or bank to make a payment—their personal safety could be at risk.