The Hawaiian Electric companies are warning customers about an increased number of reports of telephone scams to utility customers.
Recently, dozens of small business customers, mostly ethnic restaurants, have reported receiving telephone calls saying that their electric bill is delinquent and that they’re subject to same day disconnection. In some cases, the customers reported their telephone caller ID showed the calls were from Hawaiian Electric.
The calls were not made by Hawaiian Electric or any of its utilities, including the Big Island’s Hawaii Electric Light Co., indicating the scammers were using commercially available technology to emulate the utilities’ legitimate caller ID.
“These scams are growing increasingly sophisticated. The best defense is to exercise caution. We encourage our customers to remain alert and continue to report any suspicious activity,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service.
If customers receive a suspicious call from someone claiming to represent the company, the Hawaiian Electric companies encourage HELCO customers to call their respective Customer Service Centers at: 969-6999 in Hilo; 329-3584 in Kona; or 885-4605 in Waimea.
In addition, the Hawaiian Electric companies are reminding customers not to provide personal, confidential, or financial information to any unidentified individual and urge customers to exercise caution when responding to phone calls from unidentified individuals. If customers feel unsure about the identity of a caller, they should feel free to hang up and call their utility’s Customer Service Center and to report any suspicious activity to police.