Don’t be a target for energetic scam artists
In today’s world electricity is an essential. Where would we be without our electronic gadgets, air conditioning and appliances? Con artists know this and they have made energy customers one of their favorite targets across the country. LCEC continually warns customers about scams and techniques seem to advance as quickly as technology.
One of the most popular scams right now is the Green Dot scam. Typically, a fraudulent caller will contact a customer and demand payment for their energy bill within an hour to avoid disconnection. The scam artist will advise the customer to purchase a Green Dot credit card available at drug and convenience stores. The customer is instructed to call a toll-free phone number to pay their bill with the card. Many utilities, including LCEC, are reporting these scammers are targeting Spanish-speaking and foreign language populations. In more frequent cases, restaurants and businesses have been contacted during their busy hours. In some cases the scammer has the customer’s account number and address.
The newest scams are email based. An email sent to the customer looks like it came directly from the utility. The message has links for online bill payment but they really connect to malware that collects banking information and passwords for the dishonest scammers. Scams are getting more sophisticated but customers can defend themselves using old-school methods:
- Go with your gut. If something seems fishy, check it out before paying.
- Typically, a utility would not require a customer to purchase a pre-paid card to pay a bill.
- If the caller seems suspicious, hang up and call your utility directly. Don’t use the phone number the caller provide but note it so that you can call the police to report the incident.
- Don’t provide personal information when someone calls or emails you.
- Trust your instincts.
If you approached by a scam artist, contact your utility and local law enforcement. Your report could prevent others from becoming a victim to these frauds.