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.