CPU to Customers: Hang Up on Utility Bill Scammers

Use these tips to protect your information, keep your money secure

Summer may be the season for family vacations and relaxing getaways, but Clarksdale Public Utilities is reminding residents that criminals never take a break from trying to scam utility customers out of their hard-earned money.

“Scammers are always trying new and increasingly aggressive ways to target unsuspecting customers,” said Curtis D. Boschert, CPU general manager “We want to reassure our customers that no matter what the caller ID says, how official the voice sounds or how convincing the person tries to be, we will never demand immediate payment from them.”

The most common scheme occurs when a con artist calls and claims that an electric bill payment is past due, and that service will be disconnected if payment is not made right away. Although the scam can differ, customers are frequently directed to transfer funds electronically, sometimes through MoneyPak, Green Dot or another third-party card or transfer system. Scammers also have asked customers for Federal Reserve Bank routing numbers and social security numbers to pay bills.

Other efforts include insisting on an immediate deposit for a new meter, sending phishing emails or going door-to-door posing as utility employees to collect payments. It is best not to respond to these attempts and is particularly important never to allow suspicious individuals into your home. Customers should call 911 if they feel unsafe for any reason.

Here are tips to protect yourself from falling victim to scams:

  • If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut instinct.
  • Only pay your bill through one of CPU’s safe and secure methods:
    o By mail
    o Via the online customer portal
    o Through automatic bank draft
    o In-person, via kiosk or in the drop box at the CPU office at 416 Third St.
  • Remember that CPU does not accept payments using prepaid or gift cards, cash reload cards, cryptocurrency (e.g., bitcoin) or wire transfers.
  • Never give out personal or banking information by email or phone, including social security numbers, dates of birth or CPU account numbers.
  • When necessary, CPU representatives will call customers to remind them about overdue bill payments, but they never request payment during these calls.
  • Never click on links in unsolicited emails.
  • Before doing business online, secure all financial accounts with strong passwords and use different passwords for each account.
  • Check bank and credit card statements routinely.
  • Be wary of promotions and offers that request your personal information.

CPU customers who believe they are a victim of a scam should notify the proper authorities, such as the local police or the state attorney general’s office. If they believe their CPU account has been affected, call 662-627-8499 or stop by the CPU office at 416 Third St. Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“We encourage our customers to stay alert and protect themselves from scammers,” said Boschert. “The easiest way to stop them in their tracks is to simply hang up.”

Clarksdale Public Utilities is a municipally owned utility serving approximately 6,800 homes and businesses in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Its mission is to safely provide sustainable electric, water and wastewater services in a reliable and courteous manner by well-trained team members, committed to top quality, efficient operations, competitive rates and the vitality of the community.

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For more than 125 years, Clarksdale Public Utilities has supplied utility services that support our community’s growth, vibrance and quality of life. But we are more than a provider of reliable and affordable electric, water and wastewater services — we are your family, friends and neighbors. We are people who care. We are CPU.

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