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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Scammers target utility customers

  • “It comes in waves,” says Jerri Imgarten, communications specialist for Victory Electric. “It doesn't ever completely go away.”

    Imgarten is referring to the series of scams that have been hitting nearby utility companies in recent days, specifically Victory Electric and Black Hills Energy.
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  • “It comes in waves,” says Jerri Imgarten, communications specialist for Victory Electric. “It doesn't ever completely go away.” Imgarten is referring to the series of scams that have been hitting nearby utility companies in recent days, specifically Victory Electric and Black Hills Energy. The problem is not a new one but one that has seen a recent upswing in the area. Victory Electric sent out a press release earlier in January. In a news release distributed Jan. 31, Black Hills Energy describes the form recent scams have taken, and the methods scammers are using. The Victory Electric hoax involves scammers attempting to collect funds over the phone. They do so by calling, claiming to be a representative from the “electric company” and telling members if they don't buy a pre-paid credit card to pay their electric bill, then their utilities will be disconnected in an hour. In some cases, they use fake caller IDs to give the appearance that they are dialing from a Victory Electric number. Victory Electric has advised customers to never give out personal or credit card information over the phone. If such a call is received, customers are advised to hang up and call the company's local number. Black Hills Energy has reported similar cases. Scammers call indicating that a payment must be made within a short amount of time before a technician arrives to disconnect service. Like the Victory Electric scam, caller IDs have also been used. According to reports, scammers are primarily targeting small, commercial establishments and populations that may not completely understand English and/or traditional billing practices. If such a call is received, an immediate call to law enforcement is a good option. Customers can also call the utility's toll-free, 24-hour emergency line at 800-694-8989. Black Hills Energy can verify the legitimacy of the claim and confirm billing information as well as whether an employee was dispatched to the customer's location. According to Black Hills Energy, fraudulent calls were first reported in January in Colorado. The company's call center said several such calls were reported last week, though none have been reported this week. Both Black Hills Energy and Victory electric have used various forms of communication to notify customers of the scams, including posting on social media and on websites. “We are very proactive in informing customers and the general public on what to know about scams, winter safety tips, etc.,” said Monique Pope, manager, external affairs for Black Hills Energy. “We have tried to let members know in every way possible,” Imgarten said.

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