Hawaiian Electric Company is warning customers of the latest scheme that’s going around.
“Hi, my name is Amy and I’m calling from HECO. The reason for the call is the payment, the last payment, was not processed, so it did not go through,” the phone recording stated.
It’s a recording of an actual call from someone impersonating a HECO employee. So far, dozens of local businesses have been targeted, mostly ethnic restaurants.
The caller claims the last payment did not go through, so she threatens to cut the power unless payment is made quickly.
“The technician should be arriving at your location in maybe 20 to 25 minutes,” the phone recording stated.
To make it look more legitimate, customers reported that their caller ID says the calls came from HECO.
“We know that a number of our customers have called and reported this to us and checked it out and thankfully they haven’t fallen victim to any of these scams, but we don’t know there are possibly some customers who have,” HECO spokesperson Darren Pai said.
The caller says the customer can’t pay by check or credit card, but must use an electronic bill payer called MoneyPak.
“The instant bill payer is called MoneyPak. It’s like a money order except it’s electronic,” the phone recording stated.
HECO says they’ve gotten similar calls from their customers on Maui County and the Big Island, and that none of the utility companies for all counties accept MoneyPak as payment.
“We would never ask our customers to purchase this product, so if you are told to do this, you know that this is not a legitimate call from Hawaiian Electric, Hawaii Electric Light Company, or Maui Electric,” Pai said.
HECO says it’s not aware of anyone who actually made the payment and lost money. But some customers actually bought the money voucher and thankfully checked with the utility company before processing the payment.
HECO provided some additional safety tips to keep in mind:
- Be careful when taking calls from an unidentified phone number; phone scammers will want to remain anonymous.
- Scammers may use technology to fake a caller ID, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Get the caller’s name, phone number and company name. That might deter phone scammers from continuing the conversation.
- Hawaiian Electric employees would not direct you to make a payment at any location other than our customer service offices and the customer service desks of those sites noted above.