There was once a time when telephones did not have Caller ID. The phone would ring, you would answer it and your conversation would begin. Now that Caller ID is available on virtually every telephone there comes a new concern about the data it displays. The process is called "spoofing" and it's a tactic that scammers use to get you to give up your personal information.

Several Acadiana residents have reported to the Better Business Bureau that they have received calls from a telephone number, that according to their Caller ID, is connected with Entergy. Yes, that Entergy, the power company.

The scam starts when the scammer tells you that your account is past due and unless payment is made immediately your service will be terminated. I can imagine how unsettling a call like that would be. Especially to a part of the country that has gone through so much with recent hurricanes.

There are several red flags that will tip you off to the fact that this is a scam. In many cases, the scammer will ask for payment via prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The reason for this request is simple. Once the scammer has the card and or the wire and the confirmation numbers they have your cash and there is nothing authorities can do to recover it.

The scammers are also very insistent on immediate payment. They want you to act now without thinking. That's why you need to always stop and think before you turn over any money or personal information.

The easiest way to protect yourself from this kind of scam is to simply hang up the phone. Then call the utility or the company the scammer allegedly represents and verify your account information. When you initiate the call then you know you're speaking to someone with official information. Just don't hit redial on the call you just got from the scammer, you could fall right back into their clutches if you do.

If you've experienced this kind of scam or any kind of scam, please report it to the Better Business Bureau. Their Scam Tracker aggregates all of the scam reports that are sent in and helps consumers like us develop best practices to avoid being taken in this or any scam.

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