Scams targeting utility customers nationally continue to affect Connecticut Light & Power customers, with the most recent version targeting Spanish-speaking customers, reports a press release from the utility.
The scam involves prepaid “Green Dot” VISA credit cards, said the release. Callers claiming to represent CL&P may contact customers, telling them their service is scheduled to be shut off, then advising them to make a payment by purchasing a “Green Dot” VISA card. Customers are then asked to call another phone number where information is obtained from the credit card and the monetary value is removed from the “Green Dot” VISA card.
Spanish-speaking customers have been the most recent target of these individuals who call and falsely tell customers that the company is detecting excessive amounts of electricity being drawn from their home and it must be fixed immediately – for a price – to prevent a fire, reported the CL&P press release. In this scenario, the release said, customers are also told that in order to make a payment, they must purchase an untraceable pre-paid debit card, such as the “Green Dot” card.
“If a customer gets a call of this nature, he or she can verify that it is CL&P by asking for some basic information about the account. Our customer service representatives will always be able to provide the name on the account, the account address, and the exact past-due balance,” said Penni Conner, Chief Customer Officer at Northeast Utilities, parent company of CL&P, in the press release. “If the caller cannot provide that information, the call is not from one of our employees.”
“In this case, customers should not provide any type of payment or financial information, and should call Customer Service immediately at 1-800-286-2000, and local law enforcement, to report the incident,” Conner said in the release.
Customers who are scheduled for disconnection due to nonpayment receive written notice that includes the actions they can take to maintain service. They can also find their account status, including the past-due balance, on www.cl-p.com, or by calling and using the company’s automated phone system. CL&P does not require customers to purchase any type of pre-paid card to pay their bill. Customers have several payment options, including direct debit, credit card, and personal check.
Incidents such as these are also important reminders for consumers to always remain vigilant for potential fraud or identity theft, and protect their personal information.
CL&P offers the following tips in the press release:
Don’t give out information such as your Social Security number, account number or mother’s maiden name unless it is truly necessary to complete a transaction and you have verified you are speaking with an authorized company representative.
When using online and mobile technology, use passwords that have at least eight characters and include numbers or symbols, and don’t give your passwords to anyone.
Research online entities so you know who they are.
Make sure you check your web browser and virus protection software for updates regularly.
CL&P’s website, www.cl-p.com, provides more information on how to protect personal information. Consumers may also visit ftc.gov/idtheft to learn what to do if their identity is stolen or their personal or financial information has been compromised.