by Shannon Tangonan | Nov. 21, 2021
Every November, utilities across the nation mark Utility Scam Awareness Month — a time to bring attention to the scams targeting millions of customers. In Hawaii, before the holidays, local utilities come together to warn customers against scammers. And while it’s important to highlight scam awareness this time of year, vigilance is needed year-round.
You may be familiar with the calls that start off sounding like your actual utility — and they might even show the utility’s caller ID. But they quickly spiral into someone threatening to shut off your electricity, water, gas or telecommunications service within the hour. They ask for payment via credit card, gift cards, wire transfer, Bitcoin or some other option. Don’t fall for it.
Consider yourself lucky if you’ve never had this kind of call, email, text or letter. Thankfully, while there are more and more attempted scams these days — some quite elaborate — fewer utility customers are falling victim to them.
The lower number of payments to scammers means the reminders we post on social media platforms, news releases we distribute to media outlets, information we provide on our website, as well as other outreach efforts, are working.
We know it’s often difficult to determine whether the communications from us are legitimate, so here’s some info on what we do and don’t do:
If someone contacts you to say you’ll face immediate disconnection if you don’t make payment, simply hang up and reach out to your utility through the contact info listed on its official website or on your bill. The extra steps you take to ensure the communications from your utility are legit will save you money and time in the long run.
Shannon Tangonan is a manager of external corporate communications at Hawaiian Electric