Experts warn of utility scams gripping the country - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Experts warn of utility scams gripping the country

Posted: Updated:
(MGN photo) (MGN photo)
CROMWELL, CT (WFSB) -

Experts and power officials are warning customers to be wary of utility scams.

The Better Business Bureau and Eversource said criminals across the country are posing as utility representatives who threaten to turn off electricity.

The BBB said it received reports of customers being targeted in several Connecticut towns.

"These scammers can be relentless but they're only successful if they catch our customers off guard and scare them into making a payment," said Penni Conner, senior vice president and chief customer officer at Eversource.  "If anyone suspects that someone is impersonating an Eversource representative, they should contact us immediately and report it to local police. The key to stopping these scammers in their tracks is - don't panic and don't pay."

The BBB said the scammers continuously change up the scheme, but the premise continues to be getting people to "pay up."

The criminals often sound legitimate and convincing. They threaten to shut off service immediately unless an instant payment is made through a prepaid debit card.

The help combat these fraud schemes, the BBB said it launched a scam tracker. It called the feature an interactive national tracking system that provides up-to-date information on scams. No personal information is required.

Here's a link.

"This scam is similar to other criminal activity that targets consumers, using intimidation to get people to pay," said Howard Schwartz, Connecticut Better Business Bureau executive communications director.  "The good news is that when we warn businesses and residents, and educate them about how these schemes work, the better protected we are."

Eversource and the BBB provided these tips to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Eversource will never demand instant payment over the phone, doesn't require using a prepaid debit card and never ask to meet at a grocery store or retailer.
  • Customers should never provide personal or financial information to anyone over the phone or online, even if they're legitimate.
  • Customers scheduled to be disconnected from service would receive written notices that include information on how to maintain service.

For more information, head to either the BBB's website or Eversources's website.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.