BBB serving Acadiana is warning consumers of scammers impersonating a local electric company. This is not a new con, scammers frequently impersonate water, electric, and gas company representatives. This scam is most common in the winter and summer months when people are most likely to need their heat or air conditioning.
How the Scam Works: In this particular scam, residents and businesses are receiving a telephone call from someone claiming to be from Entergy. The scammer informs you that payment is overdue and the utility will be shut off if you don’t pay up immediately.
According to a local business owner that received this scam call, the scammer stated they were two months overdue on their bill and instructed them to make a payment of $2100 via Bitcoin (a form of cryptocurrency that works similarly to wire transfer) or the power would be disconnected. The business stated that the call came from an 800 number and when you called the number back, they answered as Entergy.
Scammers will use a variety of other tricks to prey on utility customers. A “representative” may appear at your door in a plausible work uniform claiming that the electric meter is not working properly and must be immediately replaced— at your expense. In a particularly alarming form of this con, the scammer may gain access to your home to perform “repairs” or an “energy audit” with the intent of stealing your valuables. These cons may also involve promises of energy discounts with the aim of taking your money, personal information, or possibly the account details needed to switch you to another utility provider without your consent (an illegal practice known as “slamming”).
Unfortunately, many people fall for this scam which is why scammers continue to impersonate utility representatives. BBB shares tips to help you spot and protect yourself from this scam
Tips to Spot This Scam:
- Prepaid debit cards and wire transfers are a red flag. If a caller specifically asks you to pay by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, this is a huge warning sign. Your utility company will accept a check or credit card.
- Pressure to pay immediately. Scammers will press for immediate payment and may try to intimidate you into giving them your personal and banking information.
Protect Yourself Against This Scam:
- Call customer service. If you feel pressured for immediate action by a caller, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill. This will ensure you are speaking to a real representative. Never give your personal or banking information to an unverified or unsolicited caller.
- Never allow anyone into your home unless you have scheduled an appointment or reported a problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification before letting them enter.
Entergy is aware of this scam and has posted an article on this scam here for their consumers.
To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.
To learn how to protect yourself, go to “10 Steps to Avoid Scams.”
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