Lakeland - 11 February, 2014
Lakeland Electric Customers please be aware that there is a scam currently taking place where a company is impersonating Lakeland Electric. The scam involves contacting individuals and companies looking for information and asking for quotes through emails or faxed messages. The messages utilize a pirated Lakeland Electric logo - However, this company is in no way affiliated with Lakeland Electric. The return email to email@example.com is not an official email and the individual does not work for Lakeland Electric. Local law enforcement is currently investigating the scam. If you are contacted through an email or a fax asking you for information, do not provide it and disregard. This is not the way we normally contact our customers.
Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 11:27 p.m.
LAKELAND | Theresa Kotomski wasn't about to let herself get scammed when she answered the phone Wednesday morning.
"It was a woman who did not identify herself, and I could tell she was reading what she was saying from a paper," said Kotomski. The 71-year-old Lakeland resident previously worked as a customer financial services representative for 13 years.
"It was 9:39 in the morning. "I'm on the Do Not Call List, which shows you all the good that does." According to Kotomski, the caller proceeded to claim she represented a company and that Lakeland Electric would be raising her power bill by 30 percent. The change would be ¬reflected in her current bill.
"They told me they'd be in my neighborhood the next day, and they could talk to me about other, alternative options," Kotomski said.
Kotomski's call came from the phone number 813-750-8040. Multiple calls from The Ledger to this number were greeted with an automated message accompanied by hold music. The call disconnected after about five minutes each time. Eric Olsen, interim chief investigator for the Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Agency, said he is familiar with this type of call. "We have gotten a few calls about people purporting to represent utility companies or government organizations," Olsen said. "It's very similar to online phishing attempts." Phishing describes an electronic attempt to acquire personal information by posing as a trustworthy entity.
"The best thing for people to do, especially if they suspect something is wrong, is to call the utility company to verify," Olsen said.
Kevin Cook, director of communications for the city of Lakeland, said there's only one way Lakeland Electric customers are notified of any rate changes.
"It's in their power bill," Cook said. He also has heard complaints from customers who have received calls similar to Kotomski's.
Users at 800notes.com, an online directory of unknown callers, have posted complaints from the same number dating to October.
"It's probably a private organization that charges for audits," Cook said. He added Lakeland Electric conducts free in-home energy audits, and customers can call 863-834-6789. Kotomski called both Lakeland Electric and consumer protection, before filing a formal complaint.
"Somebody at Lakeland Electric told me they'd gotten a call from another senior who was crying because they'd told her that her power would be turned off," Kotomski said. "What bothered me the most is that I don't know how they got my number."
Read the full article on The Ledger.com