Pay up or we’ll cut your power, Entergy scammers say

via Pay up or we’ll cut your power, Entergy scammers say

PDF:  Entergy Scam 1,  Entergy Scam 2

As the weather warms each year, so do the phone lines of customers of Entergy Mississippi, which serves the electricity needs of the western half of the state. Scammers are looking to cash in from a scheme that has been around a few years, in an attempt to con customers into paying over the phone for fear their power will be cut.

Last week, a reader emailed me to tell me she had been approached on the telephone by someone claiming to be from Entergy, a number that showed on her caller ID as 1-800-250-7305. Jo Lynn Bridges said she got the call at her office in Jackson but didn’t take the bait. “I received a call from this number telling me my power would be turned off if I didn’t pay $998.61 in cash by 2:30 p.m.,” Bridges told me. “I knew this was bogus since my Entergy bill is paid by ACH. But I checked my account anyway and called the number back.”

When she called, Bridges said she confronted the scammer, noting that the voice prompts sounded credibly enough like the real Entergy. “I waited on line to talk to someone and told them this was a scam,” she said. “He said, ‘what are you going to do, call the police?’” He then hung up.”

To look into the scam, I called Entergy spokeswoman Mara Hartmann, who confirmed that calls had been received in all four of Entergy’s operating companies in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas. Hartmann had alerted the public to a similar scam back in January.

“The scammers are getting savvier in that they are using spoof technology to make Caller ID appear to be an Entergy number,” Hartmann said. “Entergy will never call a customer demanding money, and customers should never give their personal information to strangers. If a call sounds suspicious, hang up and call 1-800-ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749) to speak with an Entergy customer service representative. Don’t call back a number the caller gives you or one that appears on your caller ID.”

“If someone believes he or she is a victim of this scam, they should notify the proper authorities, such as the local police or the state attorney general’s office and if they’re worried that their Entergy account has been compromised, they should call 1-800-ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749) to speak with an Entergy customer service representative.”

Here are some tips from Entergy in case you get a call such as this one:

While Entergy does place courtesy calls if you are at risk for disconnection, these are recorded calls, not calls from live customer service representatives. Entergy NEVER demands immediate payment.

While the caller ID may display the Entergy name and number, this is a sophisticated ruse. Caller ID is relatively easy to “spoof,” to make you think it’s coming from a legitimate source or a local exchange.

While you may pay your Entergy bill by phone or credit card, it is ONLY through BillMatrix, a third-party vendor we use for this purpose. Don’t bow to pressure to pay with a Western Union, GreenDot or similar method.

Never give your personal information to strangers.

 

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Scam preys on Entergy customers

via Moak: Scam preys on Entergy customers, clarionledger.com, 12/15/2015

As if the holidays were not already stressful enough, some Entergy customers have recently found themselves on the wrong end of scams, in which callers threaten to cut the power if immediate payment isn’t made. With cooler weather on the way, that’s alarming enough that it might make some people less careful than they would be otherwise.

I got an alert today from Entergy’s Mara Hartmann about the scam, which is targeting both residential and business customers. The con artist calls the customer to say payment is past-due and scheduled for disconnection within the hour. But if the customer makes an immediate payment through “Moneypak” or “Green Dot,” the crisis can be averted.

The only problem: Entergy doesn’t work that way.

“The scam artists targeting utility customers don’t take a holiday,” Hartmann said. “In fact, they appear to be ramping up their efforts to squeeze both residential and commercial customers with empty — but convincing threats — to disconnect their service during the holiday season.”

While Entergy customers are targeted this time, it also happens to customers of other electric utilities, gas and water companies. Here are a few things to remember:

  • If you’re at risk for disconnection, Entergy may send you a recorded message to remind you of the situation. But they will never demand immediate payment over the phone. And it won’t be the first time you’ve heard from Entergy about the problem.
  • Entergy does accept payments by phone or credit card, but payment will be made through BillMatrix (a third-party vendor), not via Moneypak, Green Dot or other service. Entergy and other utility companies also offer you several alternative ways to pay by phone, online or in person.
  • Regardless of how convincing the caller may be, don’t give your personal information (or bank account information or Social Security number) to anyone who calls.

“Despite continued efforts to inform our customers, the scam is still very convincing because new technologies allow for local utility numbers to appear on the recipient’s caller ID box,” Hartmann noted. “Just remember — when in doubt, hang up the phone and call us directly at 1-800-ENTERGY (368-3749).”

If you believe you are a victim of this scam, notify the proper authorities, such as the local police or the state attorney general’s office.

Scammers still trying to rip off utility customers

Originally published on clarionledger.com, 10/4/2013.

PDF:Scammers still trying to rip off utility customers

Earlier this year, we wrote about a scam targeting utility customers. Well, the scammers are at it again, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) again this week is warning consumers. (I would hyperlink to the FTC website, but it’s unavailable today because of the government shutdown).

Anyway, I asked Entergy’s Mara Hartmann about it, and she told me that some Entergy customers have been approached. “Some of our customers have even been approached multiple times but fortunately knew it was a scam,” she said.

As a reminder, please follow their example if you get a call that your electricity is about to be shut off unless you pay using a service like MoneyPak, Western Union, or GreenDot cards. If you give them payment information, your money’s as good as gone. If you’re really behind on your bill, you’ll be notified by mail and/or email.

If you should happen to get such a call, write down the caller ID info and introduce them to Mr. Dialtone. Then, call Entergy (or Mississippi Power, TVA, or your local cooperative — whichever happens to serve you) by calling the number on your bill. Report the call to the company. Remember, a scammer can’t make you a victim without your help.