Energy customers are being warned not to burn themselves as temperatures drop this winter.
Eversource and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) ââexpect utility scams to increase in the coming weeks as more scammers get more sophisticated in the way they find money. unique ploys to take advantage of people.
Scammers – who often appear legitimate – may threaten to immediately cut off electrical service unless an instant payment is made, or could claim the customer overpaid a utility bill and request information about their bank account. staff or their credit card to issue a refund. Penni Conner, executive vice president of customer experience and energy strategy at Eversource, said someone suggesting that you pay a bill immediately with a prepaid debit card should be an automatic “red flag.”
âCon artists are constantly changing their tactics to take advantage of unsuspecting customers and prey on people when they feel most vulnerable, such as during the holidays,â Conner said in a statement. âThat’s why we warn customers to beware – if they get a call or text and something doesn’t seem right, don’t panic and pay. And remember, we will never threaten to disconnect the service or demand instant payment over the phone.
In addition, âphishingâ or âsmishingâ are increasingly common due to the popularity of the use of smartphones. Phishing is the practice of sending fraudulent emails claiming to be from reputable companies to trick people into revealing personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Smishing is the same practice except through text messages.
“A common tactic by crooks is to create fear and panic to trick utility customers into making a hasty payment or providing sensitive personal information,” said Paula Fleming, Marketing and Sales Manager at the Better Business Bureau. for Massachusetts, in a press release. âImpostors will usually contact customers with a phone call pretending to be a representative of the utility company. Often times they will claim the payment is late and the utility will shut off the power within an hour if the bill is not paid immediately. We want to make sure consumers know how to spot the red flags of utility scams so they can protect themselves if they are targeted.
âCustomers should never give out their personal information or their utility account information,â she continued, âunless they initiate the call and know the identity of the company. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up and call your utility directly.
National Grid also warns of reported scam attempts involving residential and commercial customers. The company encourages customers to always verify the identity of a caller claiming to represent National Grid.
According to the company’s website, National Grid representatives will never threaten immediate termination of service and will not request payment if your account is up to date. National Grid also does not accept payments by wire transfer or prepaid card, and callers will always identify themselves and be able to provide the last five digits of your National Grid account number when asked.
National Grid customers who believe they have been scammed should call customer service at 1-800-322-3223 (Massachusetts Electric) or 1-800-233-5325 (Massachusetts Gas).
Eversource points out that people can avoid being victimized by staying alert to potential scams. Eversource representatives never demand instant payment over the phone, do not require the use of prepaid debit cards like MoneyPak, Vanilla, or Reloadit, and never ask customers to meet at a payment center like a Walmart or Big Y supermarket to make a payment.
According to a statement from Eversource, customers should not provide personal or account financial information to an unsolicited person over the phone, at the door or online, even if it appears legitimate. Customers scheduled to be disconnected for non-payment will receive a written notice containing information on how to maintain their service. Customers can also verify that they are speaking with an Eversource representative by requesting basic information about their account, such as their name, account address, or overdue balance.
Eversource urges anyone with doubts about the legitimacy of a call, visit, or offer to contact the company directly at 1-800-592-2000. Visit eversource.com for more information on how to protect your personal information and avoid falling victim to utility scams.