Editor’s Note: The following is a press release from Eversource for Utilities United Against Scams Awareness Day, which is today, Nov. 16.
A local veterinary hospital is operating on several animals who are under anesthesia, monitored by whirring equipment that’s powered by electricity. A popular family restaurant just filled all its seats with loyal patrons and the lunch rush is in full swing. A mother tends to her newborn baby on a chilly night, turning up the heat and pulling the blankets around her precious bundle.
That’s when the phone rings.
“Hello, this is Eversource calling because you have an overdue balance that must be paid immediately or we’re going to shut off your electricity — right now.”
Confusion (but I remember paying the bill!) is followed by terror because the stakes are particularly high in the moment, just how a scammer likes it. This is a common scheme called “Disconnect Deception.”
Panicked decision making has devastating consequences for our customers when they’re targeted by scams like these. The unfortunate reality is that scammers lack empathy for small businesses and our neighbors — they’ll leverage any opportunity to steal your money and sensitive personal information for profit.
To keep yourself and your family safe, always remember: Don’t panic, and don’t pay.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, more than 2.8 million people reported $5.8 billion in losses from fraud in 2021.
That’s why in 2016, utilities across the country joined together to fight back. Utilities United Against Scams is a consortium of more than 100 electric, water, and gas utilities and their respective trade associations that are dedicated to educating customers about the ever-evolving tactics that scammers are using so that they can avoid becoming a victim. UUAS campaigns have been successful in reducing the scammers’ theft rates to the point that customers report falling for less than 2 percent of utility impostor scam attempts today.
In addition to Disconnect Deception, you should also be vigilant against scammers who go door-to-door impersonating utilities to steal sensitive personal information and even to gain entry to your home.
Scammers’ tactics are increasingly sophisticated. In some cases, they’re able to manipulate the caller ID so that it says Eversource. If you receive a suspicious call or visit to your home, immediately call our customer care team to verify that it’s us. Again, always remember: Don’t panic, and don’t pay.
With the busy holiday season right around the corner — a time when scam activity intensifies — here are some tips to help you stay safe:
- Eversource would never demand instant payment over the phone. If you’re targeted by a “Disconnect Deception” scam, hang up right away and call us to report it.
- Our team would never ask you to pay your bill with a pre-paid card, Venmo, Zelle, Bitcoin, or other non-traditional method. You always have multiple options to pay your bill, so if someone is insisting that you make an instant payment with a gift card, pre-paid debit card or cryptocurrency, you know that it’s a scammer.
- Eversource would never ask to meet you at a payment center like a Walmart or grocery store.
- Never give your personal or banking information to an unverified or unsolicited caller — our customer care team has access to that information and wouldn’t ask you to provide it.
Be sure to visit Utilities United Against Scams for more tips and helpful information to stop scams.