Prevent Scammers from Spoiling the Holidays

CPU tips help customers protect financial and personal data

The spirit of giving defines the holiday season—a fact that scammers try to exploit to steal money and personal information. That is why Clarkdale Public Utilities is encouraging customers to be on alert by learning to recognize and resist scams whether online, on the phone or in person.

“Scams tend to increase during the holiday season, so we want to help customers recognize the signs of criminal activity to avoid falling victim to scammers,” said Curtis D. Boschert, CPU general manager. “Being vigilant about scams requires a questioning mindset, especially when strangers are asking for personal information or making suspicious claims.”

Scammers have been known to pose as utility representatives and threaten to disconnect service unless bills are paid immediately. CPU never demands immediate payments or banking information by email or phone. However, CPU representatives may ask customers for information to verify their identity when they call CPU.

Scammers may appear on caller ID as though they are calling from CPU or another legitimate business. When in doubt, do not provide personal information and hang up.

The same goes for in-person encounters. CPU employees never go door to door to collect bill payments. They travel in marked vehicles, wear clothing that associates them with CPU and carry photo identification cards. It is best to never allow suspicious individuals into your home and to call 911 if you feel unsafe for any reason.

These additional tips will help customers avoid scams and protect their personal information:

  • CPU offers several ways to pay utility bills that are safe and secure:
    • By mail
    • Online customer portal
    • Automatic bank draft
    • In-person or via kiosk and drop box at 416 Third Street.
  • 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 number, date of birth and your CPU account number.
  • When necessary, CPU representatives call customers to remind them about overdue bill payments. They never request payment during these calls.
  • Never click on links in unsolicited emails.
  • Before shopping online, secure all financial accounts with strong passwords and use different passwords for each account.
  • Check bank and credit card statements routinely, including after making online purchases and in the weeks following the holiday season.
  • Be wary of promotions and giveaways that request your personal information.
  • Before donating to any charity, verify that they have a valid taxpayer identification number by visiting their website or calling the charity directly.
“Scammers are getting more sophisticated with their tricks and tactics, especially with the prevalence of electronic devices,” Boschert said. “We encourage customers to share these tips and reminders to help others avoid scams and protect their personal information.”

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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