If you get a call from your utility company saying your service is about to be shut off because you’re behind on a payment, hang up the phone!
It’s probably a scammer. But, even if it really is your utility company, and you call them back on the number on your bill and talk to them directly, they won’t be offended.
Recently there has been a rise in calls targeting utility customers and Eversource wants to warn its customers about these scams. Fraudsters may threaten to cut your power if you don’t make an immediate payment.
The utility posted audio of a scam attempt on its Facebook page.
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“This is an important message from your electric company to inform you that your service will be suspended in the next few minutes. We have had numerous attempts to contact you, but you do not answer the call. If you decide to speak with a representative, please press 1. For more information, press 2. End of messages.
Eversource spokesperson Chris McKinnon says not a day goes by in the utility industry where customers are not being targeted by scammers.
“I think bottom line here is that any time that you get a call or text or an email out of the blue or even if someone shows up at your door,” says McKinnon, “and you don't expect them to be there or you don't expect that point of contact, you should definitely have the antennas going up, making sure you're alert and saying, no, not right now. I'm not going to give you payment. I'm going to call the company and I will talk with someone directly.”
McKinnon says demand for immediate payment or demand for immediate information should really set off red flags with residential customers and business owners.
And remember, your power will never be shut off quickly, without warning.
“Anytime a customer might be facing a difficult situation, we will be in touch with that customer many times before we end up in a situation where there could potentially be a shut-off,” says McKinnon. “Understand that in Massachusetts, there’s a moratorium during the winter, which protects a lot of customers from any type of shut off because of different situations they might be in. Obviously, safety is first and foremost for us. We want our customers out there to be warm and safe during the winter months.”
Another version of this to watch out for is the “overpayment scam” – that’s when someone claims you overpaid your bill and they need your bank or credit card information to process your refund. Never give out your personal information. And in addition to the calls, be wary of any text message or email that looks like it’s coming from your utility company.
You can find more tips from Eversource on how to avoid becoming a victim on the Eversource website.