Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta has been in contact with local, state and federal authorities about two utility scams being perpetrated against consumers and is cautioning citizens to be alert and to avoid becoming victims.

In one scam, publicized a few weeks ago, unknown persons are visiting consumers at home to collect payment for their Entergy bills.  The criminal pretends to collect information for a company called Bill Matrix – a legitimate company not involved in the scam – and gleans from consumers their social security numbers and other personal information.  Victims are told their bill will be paid through this system, but the bill is never paid.  The results have included utility disconnects and, worse, victims have made themselves vulnerable to identity theft by revealing personal information to a stranger with obvious criminal intent.

In the other con, consumers are receiving emails or texts telling them their utility bills are being paid by the federal government with monies collected from the BP oil spill settlement.  Customers are directed to provide personal information and are given a routing number.  Electronic payments appear to go through but are later rejected and the same situation results, with service disconnects and the release of personal information.

“In speaking with the FBI about these issues, I am assured that law enforcement authorities are giving these crimes their best attention,” Skrmetta said.  “In the meantime, consumers need to be aware of these scams and not fall prey to con artists.  Customers can also help police stop these criminals by turning the tables, getting as much information as possible without releasing any in return and then sharing that information with police and with my office.  Information such as a number on caller ID, the name of the fake customer service representative, and even the times of day when such emails, calls or texts arrive, can be helpful in this investigation.  If someone comes to your door to collect payment, do not let them in.  Get a description and call police immediately.  No reputable utility provider collects payments in this way.”

Anyone who has been a victim of these scams is asked to call Skrmetta’s office at 800-228-9368.

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