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Cook County residents warned of phone scam

Phone scam alert - Photo by Toni Hou, Flickr.com
Phone scam alert - Photo by Toni Hou, Flickr.com

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is advising residents of a telephone scam occurring locally involving a voice reporting to be with the Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission (PUC) or Arrowhead Cooperative.
 
Those who have reported this to the Sheriff’s Office say the caller claims they are with the Grand Marais PUC or Arrowhead Cooperative and that they are calling because the resident is behind on payments. The caller asks for credit card information to make payment  to avoid having their power shut off.
 
According to the Sheriff’s Office, if the recipient expresses doubt in the legitimacy of the call, the scammer tells them to check the caller ID on their phone. Upon doing so, they will see that the number shown is a local phone number. In some cases, it is indeed that of Grand Marais City Hall and therefore the PUC: 218-387-1848. The scammers have found a way to trick people with use of a local number – in this case, the actual number for the PUC.
 
The Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that no one with the city of Grand Marais or with Arrowhead Cooperative is making these calls, demanding payment of any residents. The utilities never threatens to disconnect power immediately over the phone. Generally, notice of any overdue accounts is made in writing with a warning period of several weeks prior to disconnection. 
 
Multiple reports of the scam have been received by the Sheriff’s Office and the power companies, however, none prior to today. If anyone receives this call, hang up. Never provide financial information like credit cards or bank account information over the phone.