BOSTON (November 14, 2018) –While bracing for colder temperatures this winter season, Eversource wants its customers to look out for the seasonal increase in common utility scams. These scammers will show up at front doors or call on the phone posing as Eversource employees to get money, demand personal information for identity theft, or use deceptive marketing tactics to convince customers to switch energy suppliers. This week, as part of Utilities United Against Scams, a consortium of over 100 energy companies, Eversource is urging its customers to beware of scammers and to heed law enforcement’s warnings.
A common utility con involves customers getting phone calls warning that their service is about to be shut off because of unpaid bills. The caller claims to be a billing representative from Eversource who tells a customer that to avoid an immediate shutoff, they need to settle an overdue bill by providing a credit card number or a prepaid debit card. Both businesses and homeowners are targeted and, unfortunately, scammers are meeting with great success. While the median monetary loss for all scam victims is $274, the median loss for a utility scam victim is $500, according to the Better Business Bureau. In fact, the BBB has found that people are more susceptible to utility scams than they are to Internal Revenue Service scams.
“We will never demand an on-the-spot payment, in person or by phone. Don’t panic and don’t pay,” said Eversource Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Penni Conner. “We’re always working to serve you better and are proud to partner with our fellow energy companies, retailers and local law enforcement. We also urge our customers who receive a suspicious phone call or home visit to call us at 1-800-592-2000 to verify ANY request for payment or personal information.”
Local law enforcement representatives are also sounding the alarm on scammers. “We’ve recently seen an increase in scammers targeting local businesses during the busy lunch rush,” says Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael Jr. “Many people simply get caught off guard and don’t realize they’re being scammed. Our department does a lot of outreach with a particular focus on senior citizens and business owners.”
Eversource urges anyone who believes they are a target of improper solicitation to please alert local law enforcement and contact the company directly at 1-800-592-2000. The energy company tracks these types of customer concerns and reports them to state regulators.
Eversource.com and the Utilities United Against Scams websites provide more information on how to protect personal information and avoid becoming a victim of utility scams. Concerned customers can also report scams and fraudulent activity by calling the Massachusetts Attorney General's Consumer Advocacy & Response Division Hotline at (617) 727-8400.