Utility scams hit Washington Parish

Published 8:37 am Friday, December 5, 2014

The Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office is receiving complaints from parish businesses, which have been targeted for a scam stating there is an irregularity in their payment, which may result in electrical service being disconnected.

Entergy, which supplies electricity throughout the parish, has published this warning to their customers:

“Scammers are targeting Entergy customers. Con artists give our customers a call and say that their electric bill payment is past due, and that their service will be disconnected within the hour if they don’t pay up. Then they are directed to transfer funds electronically, sometimes through the system known as Money Pak. the statement said.

“We don’t want you to fall victim to this scam,” warned an Entergy spokeman.

Entergy offered some tips on how to recognize scams.

• “While we do place courtesy calls if you are at risk for disconnection, these usually are recorded calls. We never demand immediate payment.

• While you may pay your Entergy bill by phone or credit card, it is ONLY through BillMatrix, a third-party vendor we use for this purpose.

• You shouldn’t give your personal information to strangers. If a call sounds suspicious, call 1-800- ENTERGY, or 1-800-368-3749 to speak with an Entergy customer service representative.”

“While businesses are being targeted now, residential customers may be next,” Sheriff Randy Seal said. “If you get a call demanding immediate payment, hang up and call your utility company to speak with a customer representative. The call you receive may sound legitimate and may even include a call-back number which has features that might fool you into thinking you are communicating with your utility company. Don’t call that number. Call your utility company instead. Do not willingly send your money to con artists. You will never see it again. Utility companies are always willing to work with customers and would never use such tactics.”