A Colorado electric cooperative is getting complaints from its members about telephone scammers warning of three-day power outages because of meter replacement work.
"They're hoping those people will leave their homes and businesses unattended so they can be robbed," said Josh Liss, a spokesman at Intermountain Rural Electric Association in Sedalia.
Liss said three members contacted IREA after receiving calls from someone claiming to be with the co-op. He said he was unaware of any break-ins related to the scam.
IREA is in the middle of a massive replacement and upgrade project for all 160,000 meters in its central Colorado service area.
"In most cases, people won't even have their power interrupted when we swap out the meters," said Liss. "And if they do lose power, it will only be for a few seconds."
The co-op mails postcard alerts several weeks ahead of time, and crews leave notices on doors after each change-out.
The scam is the second incident related to the meter replacement project. Earlier this year, a caller demanded advance payment from members on Green Dot cards for new meters—which are, in fact, free.
Both times, the co-op has taken steps to protect members with warnings on social media and other outlets.
IREA's meter replacement project is expected to continue through 2020, so it's likely the scammers could strike again. "It seems like there is always a scam out there targeting utility customers," said Liss. "We encourage our customers to call us directly whenever in doubt."