Police in Fairfield County are cautioning area residents that scams targeting utility customers across the country and in Connecticut “are in full swing.”
The Greenwich Police Department and Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut announced they would be teaming up after scammers have targeted customers over the phone or by going door-to-door.
“The scammers, often sounding legitimate and quite convincing, threaten to shut off electric service immediately unless instant payment is made,” Eversource Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Penni Conner said in a statement.
“These scammers can be relentless but they’re only successful if they catch our customers off-guard and scare them into making a payment. We remind customers, if something doesn’t sound right or feel right, trust your gut, and don’t pay.”
According to police, a new variation of the utility scam seen recently in Greenwich is to tell the customer that there is a problem with their “smart meter” and it needs to be replaced. The customer is then instructed to provide credit card information over the phone. If the customer refused the scammer gets angry and tells them to get gift cards or cash.
“One similarity in many scams, including utility scams, is a sense of urgency. Scammers often convince consumers that payment must be made immediately and that is always a red flag,” Better Business Bureau Spokesperson for Connecticut Luke Frey said. “The more we educate consumers on the basic red flags of a scam, the least likely they are to become victims.”
Tips to help avoid becoming a victim:
- Eversource representatives never demand instant payment over the phone, require the use of pre-paid debit cards or request customers to meet at a payment center to make the payment.
- Never provide personal financial or account information to any unsolicited person on the phone, at the door or online, even if they seem legitimate.
- Beware, some sophisticated scammers can manipulate their caller ID to say the caller is with Eversource.
- Customers who are scheduled for disconnection due to nonpayment receive a written notice that includes information on how to maintain their service.
- Customers can verify they are speaking with an Eversource representative by asking for some basic information about their accounts like the name on the account, the account address, and the exact past due balance.
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