The Pryor Times

May 1, 2014

Don’t fall for utility scam

Staff Writer
Cydney Baron

PRYOR, OK — A new phone scam has made its way to Pryor.

“Business owners have been getting a call from a 1-800 number, saying the business is past due on its utility payment and that they have 30 minutes to get to Walgreens to Western Union to send a payment in,” said Pryor Police Detective Chuck Ward. “Luckily, so far everyone that has received the call has gone straight to MUB to check it out.”

The caller portrays themselves as a collection agency for the utility company.

Pryor's Municipal Utility Board Officer Manager Terri Hill said MUB will not be calling for payment.

“We do not take credit or debit cards and we do not solicit payment over the phone,” said Hill. “Our delinquent payment policy includes notices mailed to the delinquent address. We do not do collection phone calls, and we do not have an outside collection agency.”

Any MUB customers with questions on their utility bill are encouraged to call MUB at 918-825-2100.

“AEP/PSO does not contact customers in this threatening manner. This is unsettling to hear that our friends, neighbors, and customers are being preyed upon by bullying and tactics that incite fear,” said Michael Gordon, Manager of Community Affairs for Northeast Oklahoma for PSO. “The employees in our Customer Operations Centers are available 24-hours-a-day to answer questions, make requests for service, or discuss payment options for billing, including average monthly payment plans. If a customer has any concerns about his current or past due balances, he should contact us at 1-888-216-3523.”

“Recently, we have had a couple of people that have received a letter that resembles Publisher's Clearing-house. It asks for the recipient to send in $5, then hounds them and hounds them for more money,” said Ward.

Ward said he encourages anyone who receives suspicious requests to contact the police department.

“People should never hesitate to call us if they have questions about the validity of a request like this. We have access to federal websites that have listings of ongoing scams,” said Ward. “Most of these scams have been in other states for a long time. They have just recently made their way to Oklahoma.

The phone number that has been reported to the Pryor Police Department as the one making these calls is 1-812-822-2206.

He said it’s possible the scammers have contacted other individuals in the county,  it is likely not limited to Pryor.

Ward said scams of this nature typically target the elderly who are more easily confused by online or over-the-phone payment methods. He urges all Mayes County residents to make their friends and family aware of the scam.