The Better Business Bureau of South Central Louisiana is alerting local consumers and businesses that the “Utility Scam” is hitting our area once again.
A woman posted on social media that she answered a call from a 225-area code number, and it sounded like an automated message from Entergy saying her bill had not been paid, and her power would be cut off soon.
The woman called the number back, but saw online that she had already paid her Entergy bill for the month of July. The person on the other end of the call asked for the service address, and for her account number. That’s when she got suspicious. She hung up and then called the 1-800 Entergy number and found out her account is current, and this was in fact a scammer!
In the past, people have told your BBB that their caller ID has even showed Entergy on their phones. Scammers will use a “spoofing” technique to help convince the potential victim that it is a valid call. 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:
Utility company imposters will typically reach you with a telephone call or knock on your door claiming to be a representative from the local water, electric, or gas company. In the most common scenario, the scammer informs you that payment is overdue and the utility will be shut off if you don’t pay up immediately.
Tips to Spot This Scam:
Ø 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.
Ø Pressure to pay immediately. Scammers will press for immediate payment and may try to intimidate you into giving them your personal and banking information.
To Protect Yourself Against This Scam:
Ø 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.
Ø 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.
Ø To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker at www.batonrouge.bbb.org/scamtracker/us