MINNEAPOLIS – September 18, 2013 – 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(s) to report an incident,” said Gregory Knight, vice president of CenterPoint Energy’s Call Center.
To avoid falling victim to any scam, CenterPoint Energy reminds customers of the following:
- Protecting personal and financial customer data is of utmost importance to CenterPoint Energy.
- CenterPoint Energy phone agents (whether inbound or outbound) will NEVER personally request banking or credit card information over the phone, but will instead transfer a customer to an Interactive Voice Response system to collect payment information for natural gas bills.
- Company field employees carry identification which clearly shows a photo and name and will never ask for Social Security Numbers or bank data during a field visit.
The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and Edison Electric Institute (EEI), an industry trade organization, are closely tracking this scam. EEI notes that customers in at least 12 states and D.C. have been targets of this scam, and have posted additional information on their website, www.eei.org.
CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution and competitive natural gas sales and services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. The company also owns a 58.3 percent limited partner interest in a midstream partnership it jointly controls with OGE Energy Corp. with operations in major natural gas and liquids-rich producing areas of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. With more than 8,700 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 135 years. The utility also operates a non-regulated business in Minnesota called Home Service Plus®. For more information, visit CenterPointEnergy.com.