Maui News

Scam Alert: Utility Impersonators Use Fake Caller ID

August 12, 2013, 1:08 PM HST
* Updated August 13, 5:23 AM
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Maui Electric Company offices in Kahului. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Maui Electric Company offices in Kahului. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Maui Electric Company and its parent company, Hawaiian Electric, are warning customers about an increase in telephone scams in which impersonators are using technology to fake caller ID.

The company issued a warning to customers today, saying dozens of small business customers across the state have reported receiving calls saying their electric bill is delinquent and that they’re subject to same-day disconnection.

Company officials say most of the calls were made to ethnic restaurants with some reporting that the caller ID showed the calls were from Hawaiian Electric.

“The calls were not made by Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric or Hawaiʻi Electric Light Company, indicating the scammers were using commercially available technology to emulate the utilities’ legitimate caller ID,” officials said in a press release issued today.

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Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service, Jim Alberts commented in the release saying, “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.”

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To report suspicious calls: on Maui, customers can call (808) 871-9777; and on Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi, customers can call 1-877-871-8461, toll free.

Customers are reminded to be cautious and never provide personal, confidential, or financial information to any unidentified individual.

Other scams reported recently include one in which customers reported being directed to pay their bill by purchasing MoneyPak vouchers.

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Company officials say vouchers are not used by HECO or its subsidiaries, and that company employees would not direct customers to make a payment at any location other than customer service offices, and the customer service desks of specified company approved sites.

***Supporting information courtesy MECO & HECO.

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