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BBB Warns of Scammers Claiming to be From Entergy

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Everybody worries about their electric bills and that’s the basis for a scam working in the Lake Area right now. While no attempted scams have been reported by residential consumers, area businesses have been called by fake Entergy employees claiming to be collecting past due electric bills.

From the BBB Press Release:

 

BBB has received calls from local businesses that were targets of this scam. Employees indicated that they received a call where the person on the other line identified her/himself as a representative from the local utility company, Entergy.  The scammer stated that the business was late paying their electric bill. The employee was told that they needed to pay immediately, or utilities will be terminated.

Here’s the way this works:

The caller will tell the business owner that they will have their service disconnected unless the bill is paid in full right away, but the scam kicks in when the caller says that, instead of paying by credit card or check, the business is told that they must be paid by prepaid debit card. That’s always a red flag.

Scammers love prepaid debit cards. The cards are difficult to trace, and you do not need photo identification to collect or spend the money.

BBB has received calls from local businesses that were targets of this scam. Employees indicated that they received a call where the person on the other line identified her/himself as a representative from the local utility company, Entergy.  The scammer stated that the business was late paying their electric bill. The employee was told that they needed to pay immediately, or utilities will be terminated.

However, instead of accepting payment by credit card or check, the caller wants businesses to pay by prepaid debit card. The scammer instructs business owner to obtain a prepaid debit card and call him/her back.

Prepaid debit cards are becoming an increasingly popular method of payment for scammers. Wire transfer services have tightened their security, so crooks have turned to these prepaid cards instead. The cards are difficult to trace, and you do not need photo identification to collect or spend the money. BBB warns that you should always treat a prepaid debit card like cash and remember that transactions cannot be reversed.

What makes this scam work is the fact that local gas, water and electric companies do sometimes contact their customers by phone, it can be difficult to tell a scammer from a real agent.  The BBB states if a caller specifically asks you to pay by prepaid debit card, this is a red flag. Your utility company will accept a check or credit card. Also, if you feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill. This will ensure you are speaking to a real representative.

When in doubt, check it out first!

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