A lot of Big Islanders have seen Tropical Storm Iselle as an opportunity to help their neighbors. But unfortunately, a few have seen it as an opportunity to run scams
HELCO has received reports of local residents getting phone calls persons who claim to represent the utility and demand personal information such as Social Security numbers. The utility has also gotten calls about “individuals wearing safety vests and climbing fences and gates to access homes.”
“Hawaii Electric Light will not contact customers to request personal information or direct customers to submit payments via options other than those listed on the back of the billing statement. The company also will not access private property without first notifying the customer. Employees and approved contractors wear photo identification badges and their vehicles are clearly marked,” the utility reports.
HELCO suggested the following tips to avoid getting scammed:
- Never provide personal, confidential or financial information to an unidentified individual.
- Ask questions or ask for proper identification. Request the individual’s name, company name, and phone number.
- Be cautious when responding to callers from an unidentified phone number.
- Be aware that today’s technology can be used to mask the caller’s phone number and the caller ID could indicate the call is originating from Hawaii Electric Light, even though it is not.
- Report any suspicious activity to local police.
Patrice Macdonald of Hawaiian Acres told BIC of another scam: someone has been accepting money to haul storm debris and personal trash to the transfer station, but instead has been dumping the bags on various streets in Hawaiian Acres. MacDonald has investigated three such incidents so far. In one case, the trash ended up in another resident’s driveway, who contacted her. In all three cases she found personal mail among the debris and contacted the owners,who were all senior citizens and all told same story: A man and a woman in a faded black pickup with some patches of gray primer paint offered to haul away storm debris for a fee.