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HECO warns customers to beware of scammers invoking utility’s name


    HECO spokeswoman Shannon Tangonan talks about how anyone could be scammed out of money at a press conference at the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center.

Hawaiian Electric Co. said today that the electric utility has received dozens of reports of scam artists pressuring customers to pay overdue electric bills by purchasing prepaid debit cards.

HECO spokeswoman Shannon Tangonan said if residents suspect a call is a scam, they should hang up and call the company’s customer service at 548-7311.

“Simply hang up,” Tangonan said. “We’d never call you to threaten that your service is going to be cut off. We’d never call you and demand payment over the phone. We’re not going to call you and ask you to go to the nearest convenience store and get prepaid credit cards. … We’d never tell you we’re going to meet you somewhere to pick up payment.”

Tangonan said there has been an uptick in the bogus calls, with the utility receiving dozens of reports over the past few weeks.

“What we’re really alarmed about is the sophistication in their methods,” Tangonan said.

Tangonan said in some cases where residents call back, the scammers often pick up the phone pretending to be the utility. She said they also call people in the middle of the work day.

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