Hurricane Harvey Brings More Than Damage, as Scammers Look to Capitalize

  
     
Mississippians being contacted that their power is about to be turned off
September 07, 2017

Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of southern and eastern Texas and parts of Louisiana, with record breaking rainfall and flooding. While many people were preparing and bracing for the hurricane Harvey last week, Mississippi businesses and residents were receiving calls from scammers claiming to be from utility companies threatening to turn their power off.

One business owner tells BBB serving Mississippi that when her caller ID read “Entergy Corp”, the confusion and frustration began. The scammer begins to tell the owner that a serviceman was on their way to disconnect their service and that they needed to make a payment to avoid the service disruption. As the owner began to pry into how a payment could be made, they were told that they could go to their nearest convenience store and make a payment. Having an uneasy feeling about how the bill could be paid, the owner called the Entergy customer service number, but can’t get through because of the high call volume due to the storm. While waiting on hold, the owner logged into their Entergy online account and noticed that the bill isn’t due until later in the month. A moment of relief was felt when the owner realized that their business could continue to operate smoothly without any disruption, yet still stunned at how easy a scammer managed to create a false alarm with no remorse.

BBB serving Mississippi believes that these scammers knew that utility companies’ customer service representatives would be facing high call volumes during the hurricane, which is why they chose to start this scam. Not only do we want to warn consumers on the fake bill payment scam, but also make them aware of fraudulent robocalls telling homeowners and renters that flood premiums are past due. “When major weather disasters happen instead of helping and embracing one another, scammer choose to take advantage of this extremely stressful time in the form of creating fake fundraisers and/or bill payments scams,” says Kourtney Moncure, PR Specialist for BBB serving Mississippi.

Back in June, Entergy Mississippi released some tips to protect customers on not falling victim to this scam.

  • While the company does place courtesy calls if you are at risk for disconnection, these are recorded calls, not calls from live customer service representatives. Entergy NEVER demands immediate payment.
  • While the caller ID may display the Entergy name and number, this is a sophisticated ruse. Again, Entergy only ever places recorded, not live calls.
  • If you choose pay your Entergy bill by phone or credit card, it is ONLY through BillMatrix, a third-party vendor Entergy uses for this purpose.
  • You should never give your personal information to strangers. If a call sounds suspicious, call 1-800-ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749) to speak with an Entergy customer service representative.


To read Entergy Mississippi’s June press release on the bill payment scam
click here.

To read the FTC’s warning on flood insurance robocall scam click here