Pat Howle, Horry Electric’s CEO, is alerting members to an identity theft scheme targeting electric consumers across the nation. A punishing heat wave, large utility bills, and a bad economy have given criminals a “perfect storm” of opportunity to prey on the suffering of others. The perpetrators have been marching across the country, making their way from state to state, persuading victims that a special federal government assistance program — sometimes described as a bailout authorized by President Barack Obama’s administration — is available to pay their utility bills. Victims are given bank account and routing numbers to use when paying their bills online, but only after they “register” by surrendering their Social Security numbers and other personal information.
There is no such utility payment assistance program, and the old adage still holds true — if something appears too good to be true, it probably is. Never give out your social security number or bank account information to someone who calls you without verifying the call.
WHAT TO DO
If you receive a phone call from a person representing themselves as a Horry Electric Cooperative, Inc. employee and you suspect it is a scam, hang up. Do not give the caller any personal information. Be especially protective of your social security number, bank and credit card numbers, and driver’s license number.
Legitimate companies will not call or e-mail you asking for your account number or password, so keep your account information to yourself. You should also not assume that you can trust caller ID to let you know where a caller is located. Because scammers may use Internet calling technology, the area code you see may not reflect where they really are. Jot down the person’s name, then hang up and call us at 843-369-2211 to verify the call.
If someone appears at your door claiming to represent Horry Electric, you can call us at 843-369-2211 to verify the visit. Never let anyone into your home unless you have scheduled an appointment or unless the person has proper identification. Our logo should appear on hats, shirts, and vehicles. If you suspect someone is impersonating an Horry Electric employee, do not let them into your home and call the police or sheriff immediately.
Finally, please warn neighbors, friends and relatives who may be susceptible to these types of scams.