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Hawaiian Electric warns of more elaborate scams targeting customers

Hawaiian Electric is warning its customers of more sophisticated scams that have become more prevalent recently.

Company officials said scammers have contacted real estate agents and threatened to immediately shut off power to their listings if payments were not made.

Scammers provided the real estate agents with a phony Hawaiian Electric contact number to give to their clients.

One client then called and was told to pay more than $800 or face disconnection. The customer spoke to a purported “agent” and “accountant,” and also was given an email with a Hawaiian Electric logo, and QR code to make the payment.

When the customer said payment would be made via Hawaiian Electric’s website, the scammer asked for a wire transfer, raising a red flag, company officials said. The customer contacted the utility and learned it was indeed a scam.

Hawaiian Electric reminded customers that it will never threaten immediate disconnection if a payment is not made.

During the pandemic, the utility sent past-due customers payment reminders via courtesy calls, postal mail, email and other communications before sending a disconnection notice. Collections resumed after a disconnection moratorium for nonpayments ended May 31.

Also, Hawaiian Electric said it does not request wire transfers, prepaid debit cards, gift cards or bitcoin to pay bills. For a list of the company’s authorized payment methods, visit hawaiianelectric.com/paymentoptions.

Customers should also be vigilant when opening purported Hawaiian Electric emails – particularly if they get one requesting credit card numbers or other personal information.

In another recent scam attempt, the company said, a business received what looked like a legitimate email using the name of an actual Hawaiian Electric employee.

The fake email informed the customer that the company had changed its electronic banking information. The business contacted Hawaiian Electric to confirm this, and learned it was a scam.

Customers who receive similar emails or suspect a scam should report it to Hawaiian Electric customer service or file a fraud report online at hawaiianelectric.com/stopscams.

Hawaiian Electric sent an email blast to customers outlining what it does and does not do. It does:

>> Extend courtesy phone calls to customers in arrears.

>> Mail payment reminders to households and businesses.

>> Send email notifications to urge payment of past due balance.

>> Disconnection notices or letters provide a minimum of five days for customers to make a payment, along with the total amount due and past due balance.

>> Leave door hanger reminder at customer’s business or residence.

>> Provide payment methods online at hawaiianelectric.com/paymentoptions.

Hawaiian Electric said it does 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 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 bitcoin.

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