Question: Will they text you to cut off electricity? I think it is a scam, so I didn’t click on the link or reply in any way, but I am pretty late on my bill. I didn’t want to call Hawaiian Electric, either.
Answer: “Hawaiian Electric’s collection efforts are currently suspended and no one’s service is being shut off for nonpayment,” the company says on its website, warning customers not to fall for scams. Even when collection notices resume, they won’t be sent by text, so what you describe must have been a scam and not a mistake, confirmed Shannon Tangonan, a company spokeswoman.
Don’t be afraid to call Hawaiian Electric about your overdue bill. The company has payment plans for customers who are struggling; you certainly are not alone in needing that accommodation.
Disconnections for nonpayment are suspended through Dec. 31; the Public Utilities Commission is expected to decide by the end of the year whether to extend the moratorium (808ne.ws/1217sty).
Con artists may be capitalizing on that looming date and on Hawaii’s general economic anxiety. Kokua Line is getting more calls from readers like you who are being hounded by texts or phone calls demanding payment for purportedly unpaid bills. These fraud attempts may be more successful when they reach someone who actually does have bills piling up.
In this case you can report the theft attempt to Hawaiian Electric using its Fraudulent Activity Report Form, at 808ne.ws/hecofraud.
The company also provides fraud prevention tips on that page and posts red flags that should alert customers they are being targeted by scammers. Under the heading “What we DON’T do,” Hawaiian Electric says that once its collection efforts resume, it will not:
>> Call and threaten immediate disconnection if payment isn’t made.
>> Send disconnection notices via text.
>> Demand payment information via email.
>> Without prior written notice, demand immediate payment and threaten to shut off the electricity within the hour.
>> Go door to door collecting past-due balances from customers.
>> Demand immediate payment over the phone, via money transfer, prepaid debit cards or by Bitcoin.
When the company’s collection efforts resume, usual methods would include:
>> Calling customers who are in arrears.
>> Mailing payment reminders to households or businesses.
>> Emailing notifications to urge payment of overdue balances.
>> Leaving door hanger reminders at a customer’s business or residence.
Disconnection notices include the total amount due and the past-due balance and provide a minimum of five days for customers to make payments. They also include information about available payment methods.
Q: What is the extension on the licenses?
A: “Any Hawaii driver license, instructional permit, or state ID that expires between March 16, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020, will be considered valid in the state of Hawaii until Dec. 31, 2020,” according to the city’s Department of Customer Services, citing Gov. David Ige’s COVID-19 emergency proclamation.
“The extension also applies to a Commercial Driver License, but you must still meet the requirements for a valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC),” the department says.
Mahalo to the two young men who pulled right over to help after they saw me break down. My car, I mean. I hit a big hole in the street. This was on Keeaumoku Street. They changed the tire and declined any tip and wished me a merry Christmas. Very nice. I wish I knew their names. Happy holidays to all. — A reader
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