HECO warns public of telephone scam

Published On: Aug 13 2013 11:52:40 AM HST


The Hawaiian Electric Companies are warning customers about an increased number of reports of telephone scams to utility customers. Recently, dozens of small business customers, mostly ethnic restaurants, have reported receiving telephone calls saying that their electric bill is delinquent and that they’re subject to same day disconnection.

In some cases, the customers reported their telephone caller ID showed the calls were from Hawaiian Electric. The calls were not made by Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric or Hawaii Electric Light Company, indicating the scammers were using commercially available technology to emulate the utilities' legitimate caller ID.

Click here to hear an audio recording of the scam.  Click here to read a transcript of the scam's phone call.

"These scams are growing increasingly sophisticated. The best defense is to exercise caution. We encourage our customers to remain alert and continue to report any suspicious activity," said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service.

If customers receive a suspicious call from someone claiming to represent the company, the Hawaiian Electric Companies encourage customers to call their respective Customer Service Centers at the following phone numbers:

- Oahu: 548-7311

- Maui: 871-9777

- Molokai and Lanai: 1-877-871-8461 (toll free)

- Hilo: 969-6999

- Kona: 329-3584

- Waimea: 885-4605

In addition, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are reminding customers not to provide personal, confidential, or financial information to any unidentified individual and urge customers to exercise caution when responding to phone calls from unidentified individuals. If customers feel unsure about the identity of a caller, they should feel free to hang up and call their utility’s Customer Service Center. Report any suspicious activity to police.

Reports may also be made to Hawaiian Telcom’s Nuisance Call Bureau. Hawaiian Telcom customers can call 643-7111 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays with reports of harassing, illegal, threatening or obscene calls. Depending on the nature of the nuisance call, a specialized team will then either investigate or recommend options to manage unwanted or annoying phone calls. Some options may entail additional charges.

Recently, many electric customers have reported that they were directed to pay their utility bills by purchasing certain types of money vouchers called MoneyPak. This is not a legitimate method of making payments on electric bills.

Customers may report fraud cases directly to MoneyPak by calling 1-800-GREEN DOT through the company’s website using the "Report Fraud" tab:
- https://www.moneypak.com/ProtectYourMoney.aspx#Scams

Customers wishing to pay their electric bills in person may do so at Hawaiian Electric's customer service offices in Honolulu, at Maui Electric's Kahului and Molokai business offices, or at Hawaii Electric Light's office in Hilo, Kona or Waimea.

In addition, other legitimate payment options include:
- U.S. mail
   - Oahu: PO Box 3978, Honolulu, HI 96812-3978
   - Hawaii Island: PO Box 909, Honolulu, HI 96808-0909
   - Maui, Lanai, Molokai: PO Box 1670, Honolulu, HI 96806-1670
- Online at www.hawaiianelectric.com; www.mauielectric.com; or www.hawaiielectriclight.com
- Walk-in payments may be made at First Hawaiian Bank, Walmart, or Western Union locations (Foodland, Kmart, Sack-N-Save, Safeway, Times Supermarket)
- By Phone through charge, checking/savings debit card, or electronic check (Fees Apply)
   - Residential customers, please call 1-888-813-2207
   - Commercial customers, please call 1-888-813-2215

Here are 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.


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