Utility customers around the country are being targeted by the ‘Green Dot’ pre-paid debit card scam, and CenterPoint Energy is warning customers to be alert.
Posing as electric company employees, scammers are calling customers to tell them they are behind on their electric bills and have a short time to make a payment. The customers are told to purchase a Green Dot pre-paid debit card or other type of reloadable debit card, load the card with money and then provide the serial number from the card to avoid having their electricity shut off.
It is important to note that while CenterPoint Energy does bill customers for natural gas service, it does not send bills for electric service and does not provide electric service in Minnesota. Therefore, any caller posing as a CenterPoint Energy employee asking for payment of an electric bill should be considered suspicious and reported to the customer’s retail electric provider — the company that bills them for electric usage.
“While we have not experienced this type of activity, we want to remind customers to report any suspicious activity to their local police department, file an identity theft report and contact their bank or other financial institution to report an incident,” said Gregory Knight, vice president of CenterPoint Energy’s Call Center in a news release.
To avoid falling victim to any scam, CenterPoint Energy reported protecting personal and financial customer data is of the utmost importance to the company, and CenterPoint Energy will never personally request banking or credit card information over the phone. Instead, CenterPoint Energy reports customers would be transferred to an interactive voice response system to collect payment information for natural gas bills.
In addition, company field employees carry photo identification and CenterPoint Energy said they will never ask for Social Security numbers or bank data during a field visit.
To see a video explanation from the Better Business Bureau, go online to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0WgSkxU5N4&feature=c4-overview&list=UU9Y... for more information.