Scams Increase Around COVID-19 Pandemic, Hawaiian Electric Says
Periods of crisis have historically encouraged con artists and the COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be no different.
Scammers are trying to capitalize on coronavirus fears by pretending to be Hawaiian Electric and threatening to disconnect customers’ electric service unless “overdue” bills are paid, according to a Hawaiian Electric press release Wednesday.
Hawaiian Electric has received dozens of fraud reports from across its five-island service territory since late last week. The company speculated that many more fraud attempts are likely going unreported. On Wednesday alone, there were 23 fraud reports received on Oʻahu by 1 p.m., the company said.
Customers have also reported receiving threatening texts from Hawaiian Electric asking for payment. Hawaiian Electric does not text customers to request payment, the release stated.
Earlier in the day, an Oʻahu customer lost more than $300 after a scammer called and threatened to cut off electric service to the customer’s home. The scammer requested and received funds via Cash App, a mobile app that allows peer-to-peer payment. Hawaiian Electric does not accept Cash App payments, bitcoin, gift cards or prepaid debit cards.
Visit https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/customer-service/customer-and-payment-centers to check the acceptable forms of payment.
Hawaiian Electric has suspended disconnections through at least April 17 so that customers facing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic are able to contact Customer Service and arrange payment options and schedules. While customers will still be responsible for paying their electric bills, payment arrangements can help ease the financial challenges for those most affected by the COVID-19 situation.
To make payment arrangements or for more information, visit the company’s online customer care center at www.hawaiianelectric.com or call representatives at the following numbers:
- Hilo: 808-969-6999
- Kona: 808-329-3584
- Waimea: 808-885-4605
- O‘ahu: 808-548-7311
- Maui: 808-871-9777
- Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i: 1-877-871-8461