January 14 2015

NSTAR Warns Customers of Reported Scams

By: Rich Hosford

NSTAR is warning customers of scams that have recently been attempted in the area and is providing ways to avoid becoming a victim. 

 

“Recently there has been an increase in scams both in our region and nationally,” a warning on its web site states. “At NSTAR we want to protect you from potential scams.”

 

Most of the scams are done over the phone by someone telling the potential victim they are a NSTAR representative. Complicating things, the energy company said that in some instances, customers reported seeing NSTAR's 800-number appearing on their caller ID when they were contacted by scammers. 

 

NSTAR said a common theme of many of the scams is someone threatening customers with disconnection if a payment is not made immediately. Here are some of the scams customers have reported to the energy company: 

 

A caller states they represent the Billing Department and tell customers they will be shut off if they don’t make a payment by midnight.

 

A caller instructs a customer to make a payment by purchasing a “Green Dot” VISA card. The customer is then asked to call another phone number where information is obtained from the credit card and the monetary value is removed.

 

A customer reported receiving a phone call from another electric utility telling him that NSTAR was disconnecting the customer’s service by 7 p.m. unless a payment of $500 was made.

 

A customer was told by a caller that their meter was malfunctioning and the customer was being overcharged. The customer was instructed to purchase a prepaid credit card for $200. The customer was later called back and told the payment wasn't completed, so another card needed to be purchased for $300 - with the assurance the customer would be refunded $1,000 and the meter repaired.

 

NSTAR offers some tips to people to help avoid become victims of scammers. 

  • • Never provide personal financial information to any unsolicited individual, whether in person, on the phone, or online.

  • • Customers schedule for disconnection due to non-payment receive advanced written notice, which includes actions they can take to ensure their service isn't interrupted.

  • • Customers have multiple payment options available, including E-BillOne Time PaymentsPay by PhoneMoney OrdersWalk-In Locations and credit card payments.

  • • NSTAR would never ask customers to purchase prepaid cards.

  • • You can verify a caller claiming to be from NSTAR is legitimate by asking for some basic information about your account. Our representatives are able to provide the name on your account, the account address and exact past due balance on your account.

  • • Always decline any door-to-door offer claiming to be from NSTAR - even if the individuals provide proof such as a utility company badge number. You can also call us directly at 800-592-2000 to confirm any offers.

 

“If you believe somebody is falsely claiming to be an NSTAR employee, report the incident immediately to your local police,” the company states. 

 

There have also been some scams that were attempted in person. NSTAR said that all employees carry photo identification with them at all times and most drive a company vehicle. It also said employees rarely make unsolicited house visits with a couple of exceptions being checking equipment, addressing safety concerns or following up on collection notices. 

 
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