BBB and Entergy warn residents about electric bill scam

BBB and Entergy warn residents about electric bill scam
(Source: AP)

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Entergy and the Better Business Bureau are joining forces to warn against an electric bill scam that has again resurfaced.

BBB officials say they have received numerous phone calls, from local businesses especially, who have received calls from scammers warning their electricity is about to be cut off—unless they send money immediately.

Officials say the business owners are often frantic because a loss of electricity would have a serious adverse effect on their ability to do business.

“They are being told that if they don’t make a payment toward their electricity bill that they will be disconnected. We urge you not to call the number back,” said Angela Guth, president and CEO of the BBB of Southwest Louisiana..

Entergy’s Margaret Harris says they never call on the phone to threaten disconnection or to demand money.

“All types of customers, commercial, governmental, residential and they’re demanding payment. Entergy never makes a call to you demanding payment of your electric bill," she said.

Harris says disconnect notices would be sent according to the customer’s instructions—that is either a paper bill in the mail or a text message.

Both Entergy and the BBB advise consumers to hang up and report any such calls received. They say part of the challenge is that the scams constantly evolve. The caller ID can be manipulated, so a consumer’s phone may show an Entergy number when it’s not.

“One of the concerns that customers have raised is that the caller ID is the same phone number as Entergy’s phone number. So, that makes it look legitimate and it is not legitimate,” said Harris.

Vic Wukovits is a local IT consultant and business owner, who says the calls are convincing.

“I had my payments set up on auto pay, but I know weird things happen all the time, glitches. So, concerned, I called that 800 number and I was greeted with an auto response system that sounded like Entergy’s,” he said.

Luckily , he became suspicious, started asking questions and the scammer finally gave up.

“I said, I’m afraid I’m going to need you to give me a little more information before I give you anything else. At which point the call ended, mysteriously,” he said.

So remember, Entergy will never call and threaten to disconnect or demand money and any caller that claims as much is a fraud.

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