On Saturday a Brookline business owner got a phone call from someone claiming to be a representative from Eversource. The woman told the business owner his bill was overdue and if he wanted to keep the shop’s electricity on, he would have to pay immediately. The thing was: the person on the other end of the phone said the company did not accept credit card payments over the phone.
But they would take pre-paid money cards worth almost $1,000. Brookline Police and the Brookline Chamber of Commerce are warning residents about this type of scam that more than one person in Brookline has recently fallen for.
In this case, similar to other cases, the Brookline business owner was so concerned about losing electricity that he ran out and got several “Green Dot Money Pak” cards and arranged payment that way.
It was only after the woman on the other end of the phone told him he still owed money did he realize he might be getting scammed. The Brookline man called his landlord, who told him the electricity bill was actually included in the lease.
Police say utility scams (similar to the grandparent scams) are common, and there are tell tell signs as to the scam, one of the big ones? Police, Courts, Utility companies will never ask for an immediate wire transfer or pre-paid card as payment.
State officials have been aware of similar scams for some time and recommend looking for these tell-tale signs that give away scammers:
- The callers cannot provide simple information about your account, such as the name on the account, the address of the account, or even your account number.
- The callers demand payment using a reloadable debit card or other non-traceable form of payment. If the caller is demanding payment in that form, hang up.
- The caller is angry or threatening.
- It is the first time you are hearing about a payment being due. There are strict regulations governing the cut-off utilities and the legal process includes several notices being sent to the customer first. If you are hearing for the first time about a payment being due that day from you to the energy provider, it is likely a scam.
Watch out for these recent phone numbers coming across your caller ID: 1-800-592-2000 and 844-372-8508. According to the Chamber of Commerce these are the numbers that called the local business owner claiming to be from Eversource.
Here is the alert the police sent out on the scam:
Utility scams are common ways that even the most vigilant people can fall victim to. They often pretend to be a representative of your provider, sometimes claiming that they will turn off your electricity or even threatening jail time as a means of receiving immediate payment. It is important to recognize the common signs of utility scams and the facts regarding your utility provider.”
Both Eversource and National Grid will…
- never ask customers to make direct payments over the phone;
- never demand immediate transfer – via wire or pre-paid cards;
- both Eversource and National Grid Representatives and affiliated
- always carry a company-issued photo ID and provide it when asked by the customer.
If you believe you have been scammed or contacted by a utility scam artist, please report it to the Brookline Police Department. In addition, contact your utility provider.