Utility scammer contacts local REA member
A growing telephone scam is affecting utility customers across the country, including Runestone
Electric Association members.
The scam involves telephone callers claiming to be from a utility
company and then employing a variety of techniques to defraud customers. Some threaten
customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they don’t make a
Locally, a rural Barrett resident received a call Tuesday morning from a woman claiming to be
from her electric company. When asked “What electric company?” the caller said, “You know,
YOUR electric company.”
Then the scammer went on to say that a check recently mailed to
the electric company was not signed. The REA member was told by the scammer that if she
didn’t provide a credit card number right now over the phone, her power would be shut off
"It's terrible that someone is trying to take advantage of our members and others," said
Sue Lundeen, manager of member services for Runestone Electric Association. "Under no
circumstances would we call a member and threaten to disconnect their power if a check is not
signed. Disconnection for non-payment is a lengthy process that involves written notices sent
to the member over the period of several months. We would never disconnect someone without
prior notice in writing.”
Thankfully, the REA member did not give out her credit card number and hung up after she
realized it was not her electric company on the phone. “The caller was very persistent and
demanding,” said the REA member.
Other methods used by scammers include:
--Claiming to know the specific billing amount.
--Instructing customers to send money via a prepaid card or an online payment service,
such as PayPal or GreenDot, before their power is shut off.
--Falsifying caller ID so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known
If you are suspicious of any call threatening disconnection and demanding immediate payment,
hang up immediately and contact Runestone Electric Association about your electric accounts
and payments at (320) 762-1121 or 1-800-473-1722.
If you have been a victim of such a scam, report it to your local police department and to the
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s Consumer Affairs Office at 1-800-657-3782 or by
email at firstname.lastname@example.org.