September 11, 2012
Department of Consumer Protection Warns Consumers about New Utilities Payment Scam
HARTFORD, September 11 – Scammers are posing as representatives of the Connecticut Light and Power Company and are seeking immediate payments from Connecticut residents, Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein warned today.
Several consumers recently reported to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority that they have been called by “Mike Anderson,” or “Jesse Fernandez,” men who claimed to be with the CL&P billing department. “Mike” advised one consumer that her power would be disconnected unless she purchased a Green DOT Card and loaded it with money. To avoid disconnection, after loading the card with nearly $300 in cash, the consumer was then to call another number with the account information on the Green Dot card. A consumer contacted by "Jesse” over the weekend reported having a similar telephone experience.
These consumers called CL&P and were told their accounts were in order and that they were targets of a scam. The consumers subsequently made this information known to the Public Utilities Resource Authority, which operates under the auspices of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
“The targeted consumers did the right thing by calling their utility to verify the caller’s claim, and I encourage anyone who gets this type of call to do the same,” Commissioner Rubenstein said. “Never make any payment to someone who calls you over the phone unless you are absolutely certain that they are legitimate, and that you owe what they say you owe. Had those consumers followed the scammer’s instructions, their money would be long gone.”
“Green Dot” is a brand of reloadable prepaid card -- a relatively new form of payment that is gaining in popularity. Reloadable prepaid cards are similar to credit or debit cards in appearance and in purpose; they can be used for everyday purchases and shopping online. The major difference is that before a pre-paid card can be used, it must be “loaded” with cash value, making it very difficult to track or trace.
“It’s always very upsetting to us when we hear about scammers trying to take advantage of our customers by misrepresenting themselves as our employees,” said Penni Conner, Chief Customer Officer at Northeast Utilities, parent company of CL&P. “In this case, customers should not provide any type of payment or financial information, and should call Customer Service immediately at 800-286-2000, and local law enforcement, to report the incident.”
If you believe you are the victim of, or were targeted by this scam, you may also file a written complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection at 165 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06141 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions about your CL&P account, please call the CL&P Customer Service Center toll-free at (800) 286-2000.