Acadiana Don’t Get Scammed By Horrible Utility Company Fakes
A scam that is known to law enforcement and utility officials is making the rounds again.
The scam is simple. The scammers try to convince you that your utility bill is overdue, and you must pay it right away. Please don't fall for this scam. According to Alex Antonowitsch in the public relations department of Lafayette Utility System, they have heard of threats being made to customers.
Another person who reported a similar situation involving a neighbor, is Trooper Thomas Gossen, spokesman for Louisiana State Police Troop I. His neighbor said someone called his friend claiming that the friend's Entergy bill was overdue and his electricity would be cut off if he didn't pay up. That friend doesn't even have Entergy for his utility service. Obviously, he didn't give the caller any information or money. But, this example highlights the importance of staying alert and reporting anything suspicious to your local police department.
Antonowitsch says these people may threaten to shut off your electricity and/or your water service, but this is not a call that is coming from LUS. He says even if the number displayed when you get the call says LUS, don't believe these people. LUS will send you an automated message and/or postcard to tell you your bill is overdue. They will not ask for a payment over the phone. Believe me, I know this is true. One month I forgot to pay my LUS bill, and I received both a friendly automated reminder and a postcard reminder that my bill was overdue. If someone wants your money over the phone, just hang up the phone. It's not rude; it's smart.
I spoke with Chris Babin, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President with the Better Business Bureau about these types of scams. Here are his thoughts on what's happening,
Utility company imposters use a variety of tricks to prey on customers. Never give your personal or banking information to an unverified or unsolicited caller, they aren't always who they claim to be. If you're pressured to pay immediately with threats of having your power disconnected, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill. This way you can ensure you're talking to a real representative.
One of the big things to think about is what type of payment someone is asking you to give them. Antonowitsch points out that LUS will never ask you to pay your bill with Paypal, Western Union, GreenDot, or a gift card.
Another thing to remember if you are an LUS customer, you can pay your bill over the phone using their automated system. When in doubt about any kind of phone call, just hang up the phone without giving them any of your information or hard-earned money.