Thursday, February 13, 2014

BPU warns of phone scam

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- The Board of Public Utilities is warning Wyandotte County customers about a scam that's targeting customers.

More from BPU:
The scams involve telephone callers claiming to be from a utility company and then using various techniques to defraud customers. Some threaten customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they do not make a payment immediately.

The scam artist instructs customers to send them money via a prepaid card such as a Green Dot Card, before their power is shut off. Other scam calls   were made to collect money for replacing electric meters or adding surge protectors to their homes. The person is asking customers to go to a CVS or a Walgreens and purchase a pre-paid card and asking them to have the card account information available when he calls back.

The person told potential victims if the information was not given within four hours, their electricity would be shut off or even worse, their home would blow up.  Sometimes the scammer’s caller-ID is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility, a practice known as “spoofing.”

“Last year we had reports of calls from customers who had been contacted by these methods, we got the word out to the public about these scam calls and they stopped targeting our customers.  Now it appears these scam artists are back and once again attempting to extort money from our customers using scare tactics and threats.

"We urge all who are contacted to call their utility before providing any type of payment to any such request,” stated David Mehlhaff, BPU Chief Communications Officer. “Any customers who receive such a call should not attempt to make any payment and should instead contact their utility’s customer service department.”

BPU customer service representatives are reassuring customers that this is a scam and warning them to not give out any personal information to these scam artists.

Please contact BPU or call the police if you believe you have been the target of this or any scam. 

BPU said electric customers have been targeted in several states besides Kansas, including Nebraska; Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; the District of Columbia; Florida; Louisiana; Maryland; Massachusetts; Mississippi; Missouri; New Jersey; New York; Oklahoma; Texas; Wisconsin; and New Mexico.