Hawaiʻi Utility Scam Awareness Day
Hawaiian Electric Companies and Utilities United Against Scams are marking the second annual Utility Scam Awareness Day on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, by educating electric customers about aggressive phone scammers.
Utilities United Against Scams, a consortium of more than 100 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities that includes the Hawaiian Electric Companies, launched a weeklong advocacy and awareness campaign focused on exposing the tactics of scammers intent on stealing money from utility customers.
Locally, the companies have recommended customers “just hang up” to combat a recent spike in aggressive phone scams targeting electric customers.
If someone calls saying they’re from Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric or Hawaiʻi Electric Light and demanding immediate payment over the phone or via prepaid debit cards, it’s a scam.
If the caller says the account is delinquent and threatens to shut off power immediately unless payment is made, it’s a scam.
If the caller asks to meet the customer in person to pick up a payment, it’s a scam.
Customers should just hang up if they receive such a call, and dial the customer service line printed on electric bills or listed on the appropriate company’s website. Do not call the number displayed on your caller ID, even if it says “HECO,” “MECO” or “HELCO.”
Within recent weeks, the companies have received dozens of fraud reports, with some customers paying hundreds of dollars to phone scammers. The scammers have targeted mostly small to mid-size businesses, but residential customers also have been victimized. Scammers will often call during busy times at a business, for example, and threaten to shut off the electricity if they’re not paid immediately.