The Hawaiian Electric Companies warn customers to “Just hang up!” on scammers

As phone fraud increases, utilities launch awareness campaign

Release Date: 10/9/2017

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HONOLULU, Oct. 9, 2017- Just hang up! That's what the Hawaiian Electric Companies recommend as they begin a month-long campaign to alert customers about a recent spike in aggressive phone scams targeting electric customers.

  • If you receive a call from someone saying they're from Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric or Hawaii Electric Light and demanding immediate payment over the phone or via prepaid debit cards, it's a scam.
  • If the caller says your account is delinquent and threatens to shut off your power immediately unless payment is made, it's a scam.
  • If the caller asks to meet you to pick up a payment, it's a scam.

Simply hang up if you receive such a call, and dial the customer service line that is printed on your electric bill or listed on your company's website. Do not call the number displayed on your caller ID, even if it says "HECO," "MECO" or "HELCO."

Within recent weeks, the companies have received dozens of fraud reports, with some customers paying hundreds of dollars to phone scammers. The scammers have targeted mostly small to mid-size businesses, but residential customers also have been victimized. Scammers will often call during busy times at a business, for example, and threaten to shut off the electricity if they're not paid immediately.

While it's not unusual for scams to increase before the holidays, the companies have noticed a higher level of sophistication among the scams. Scammers will often call businesses during busy times or right before closing, for example, and threaten to shut off the electricity if they're not paid immediately. They're also persistent and aggressive, insisting that a bill is overdue even if the customer knows it's been paid.

For more information, go to www.hawaiianelectric.com/stopscams.