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BBB Issues Alert About HELCO Impersonator Scam

August 2, 2017, 11:30 AM HST
* Updated August 2, 11:33 AM
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Last week, Hawaii Electric Light Company warned its electric customers on Hawai‘i Island of an apparent telephone scam.

Customers have reported receiving calls threatening immediate disconnection unless they pay their bill via a money transfer or cash express payment.

Hawaii’s Better Business Bureau warns consumers to avoid this type of scam by:

  • Using caller ID to screen calls and consider not even answering unfamiliar numbers. If it’s important, they will leave a message, and you can call back.
  • Joining the Do Not Call Registry (DoNotCall.gov) to cut down on telemarketing and sales calls. This may not help with scammers since they don’t bother to pay attention to the law, but you’ll get fewer calls overall. That may help you more quickly notice the ones that could be fraudulent.
  • Staying calm. Many scams count on an emotional reaction. It’s important to resist the pressure to act quickly. Tell them you’ll call them back and then contact them using their number listed on their website or in this case, your utility bill.
  • Never wiring money. Wiring money is like giving cash—once you send it, you can’t get it back. If you are asked to wire money based on a request made over the phone, especially to locations overseas, consider it a serious red flag. Always make certain of the recipient’s identity before using a wire service or pre-paid debit cards.

Similar to this, consumers to be on alert for anyone that comes to their door unsolicited, whether it be a utility worker or a door-to-door sales person, especially during the summer months.

Anytime anyone arrives at your door unexpectedly, consumers should ask for company ID to confirm the employment of the individual with the business he or she represents.

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If it is a door-to-door sales person, consumers should be sure to:

  • Read Everything Make sure you understand the contract before you sign it
  • Don’t Give In to “Must Act Now!” and other high-pressure sales tactics are a red flag of a possible scam
  • Do your Research Research on the company that the salesperson represents. Check hawaii.bbb.org for complaints and customer reviews.
  • Ask for References Ask other people about their experience with the company.
  • Know your Rights Understand local law on door-to-door sales and your rights as a consumer.
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If a person has received a call like this, they should make a note of the number and report it online to help warn others.

Door-to-door sales scams should also be reported using the BBB Scam Tracker.

BBB also shares Scam Tracker information with government and law enforcement agencies, so every piece of information is helpful in tracking down scammers.

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