Scam Alert: Small businesses targeted in utility bill scam - WNCT

Scam Alert: Small businesses targeted in utility bill scam

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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -

Small businesses are the latest target of scammers in eastern North Carolina.

On Saturday, the Jones Onslow Electric Membership Corporation received several calls from some of the business customers. The owners say someone claiming to represent the company said their power would be cut off if they did not pay their past due bill with a prepaid visa card. Luckily, the businesses hung up and called the company directly to verify the claim.

Vice President of Energy Services, Steve Goodson, says once they were made aware the scam they notified the media, put a recording on their phone line, and issued a statement on the website.

Goodson has this advice for customers if they receive these calls.

"First of all we will never demand prepaid visa cards. We won't call and ask for personal information over the phone. If we do call folks we'll say that they are coming up for collection, and we'll ask them to verify some information; but we will never call someone demanding payment right then or power will be cut off," said Goodson.

Headquarters Barbershop barber, James Tyree, says the idea of scammers targeting small businesses’ electricity is scary.

“With us being a barbershop everything we use runs off of electricity and so you don't' want to get the owners or the managers all in an uproar thinking that wow have I paid my bill or paying extra money and put it on an account that doesn't even exist,” said  Tyree.

Goodson says this isn’t the first time somebody has used their company name to try and scam customers. He says a little over a month ago some business in Jacksonville received these same types of calls.

Goodson says other utility companies have also been targeted by these scammers across the state.

Goodson warns customers if you receive one of these calls, call them directly at (910) 353-1940.

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