For popular eateries, like the Popover Bakery and Café in Simsbury, weekend business is their “bread and butter.” So when one of the owners at Popover recently got a phone call from someone claiming to be from Eversource, threatening to shut off their power in two hours unless they made an immediate payment, she panicked.
“It was a terrible feeling – we had a full restaurant at the time and I knew if our power was shut off we’d lose a lot of business on one of our busiest days of the week,” said Pam Paydos, Popover Bakery and Café co-owner, according to a press release from Eversource. “The person on the phone sounded legitimate and was very convincing at first. But when the person told me I had to go to a payment center at Big Y or Walmart, I knew something wasn’t right.”
After calling Eversource to confirm the status of her account, the news release said, the owner realized she was the target of a scam. This type of scam continues to plague small businesses around the country and usually at the most inopportune times. Callers in Connecticut claim to be from Eversource and tell the users their service is scheduled to be shut off, and then pressure them to make an immediate payment by purchasing a prepaid debit card, commonly referred to as the green dot scam, at a certain location, said the news release from Eversource.
“These scams work by scaring customers and catching them off guard, hoping they’ll ignore their better judgment and make a payment or provide personal information,” said Penni Conner, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Eversource in a press release. “If any of our customers suspect someone is impersonating an Eversource representative – whether on the phone or in-person – even if they show identification, they should contact us immediately or call the local police.”
Eversource representatives never demand instant payment over the phone and don’t require the use of pre-paid debit cards, said the news release from the utility. Customers can verify they are speaking with an Eversource representative by asking for some basic information about their account, said the news release. Company customer service representatives will always be able to verify the name on the account, the account address, and the exact past due balance, said the news release.
In addition, the release explained, Eversource employees rarely make unsolicited house visits. Some exceptions include accessing utility equipment to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the distribution system, or if there is a reported safety concern, the release said. Customers are urged to always decline any door-to-door offers or requests to discuss energy rates from someone claiming to be an Eversource employee, said the news release from the utility.
Eversource urges anyone who has any doubts about a call or a home visit to contact the company directly at 1-800-286-2000 and report the incident to local police immediately.
The utility’s website, www.eversource.com, provides more information on how to protect personal information and avoid being a victim of utility scams.
Customers may also visit ftc.gov/idtheft to learn what to do if their identity is stolen or their personal or financial information has been compromised.