Don’t be shocked – beware of electricity scams. Know how to spot them | Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart and Shipley
A combination of the pandemic, last winter and the coming summer has caused a surge in scams targeting Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) customers.
The scams involve predators posing as utility company officials calling households and threatening to turn off lights unless the bill is paid immediately.
“Everyone from elderly households to small business owners are at risk of being targeted,” said Monica Martinez, of Utilities United Against Scams, in a report. South Florida Sun Sentinel story titled “About Your Unpaid FPL Bill: This Caller May Be A Scammer.”
Don’t be fooled. The crooks are sophisticated enough that the phone’s caller ID incorrectly reads that it is from FPL, so it looks like it is from the company. It’s not. The trick goes like this:
- Scammers insist they are calling about an overdue account.
- The crooks then threaten to cut off the electricity within an hour unless a payment is made.
- Sometimes scammers launch a scare tactic by saying a truck is about to do it
- Scammers demand payment via prepaid card or wire transfer.
This is all wrong, but customers continue to be victims of it.
“A listener recently wrote to us that she was scammed by people posing as representatives of Florida Power & Light,” according to WLRN-FM. “They asked her for her bank account information and unfortunately she gave it. FPL spokesman Matt Eissey said this was nothing new. “
Eissey said those who get a call from a scammer should hang up and report it to police.
“What I want our customers to understand is that FPL will never call for a threatening disconnect and require payment by prepaid card or bank transfer,” he said.
The fantastic West Palm Beach Wellness Center quickly realized they had been scammed when a call as above arrived.
“I don’t want the lights to suddenly go out,” the center’s Dr Olayemi Osiyemi told WPBF-TV. “No one will have any idea what’s going on.”
Osiyemi initially decided to pay the bill – the full $ 800 – by credit card.
And he said, ‘No, we can’t accept a credit card,’ Osiyemi said. paid. We can take the money. “
The scammer directed Osiyemi to a drop box a few miles away.
“If I had to go to this place, someone could have shot a gun at me, steal my car, shoot me, steal my money,” Osiyemi said. “So there is a security problem.”
FPL has a page on their website on scams and how to protect yourself against them. In this regard, the company issues the following warning: “Scammers are aggressively targeting utility company customers across Florida and the rest of the country using sophisticated tactics to pocket money quickly.” We continue to provide our customers with information on the most commonly used scams and how you can protect yourself by partnering us with over 100 utility companies across the country and sharing the latest scam information. “
There is also a link on the page to report the scam directly to FPL. The company says it will never threaten customers, request immediate payment, or turn off the service if a request is not met.
“We encourage customers to be on high alert and take action if they believe they have been involved in a scam incident,” FPL’s Christopher Chapel told WFTX-TV. “Our commitment is to our customers and their safety and we created the online scam reporting feature to help customers report scam incidents faster and easier.”
The company further states that it will not ask for personal information unless the call is from the customer. Another type of scam that occurs during extreme weather situations is a request for personal information, such as a winter storm in northern climates or a hurricane in the tropics. In the event of a power failure, the crooks go on the offensive.
“They might call to say they’re sorry your power is off and offer a refund, but they need your bank account information first,” according to the Federal Trade Commission. “They can email you to tell you there’s an error in their system, and you have to give them personal information so they can turn your gas back on. They might even threaten to keep your utilities shut if you don’t send them money immediately. But these are all lies.