MINNEAPOLIS – March 14, 2014 – Utility customers around the country are being targeted by utility bill scams and the ‘Green Dot’ pre-paid debit card scam, and CenterPoint Energy is warning customers to be alert.
Posing as utility company employees, scammers are calling customers to tell them they are behind on their bills and have a short time to make a payment. The customers are told to pay with their credit card or 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 service shut off at the meter.
“We want to remind customers to report any suspicious activity to their local police department, and if they fall victim, contact their bank or other financial institution(s) to report an incident,” said Joe Vortherms, vice president of Gas Operations for CenterPoint Energy.
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.
• To verify a payment or amount due please call your utilities customer service number that is printed on your utility bill.
• Credit card numbers and any personal information should not be provided when suspicious.
• Contact 911 and report suspicious activity to the local police.
• Please call and report the incident to the local utility provider and the BBB.
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.