CenterPoint Energy warns of prepaid debit card scam
MINNEAPOLIS — CenterPoint Energy issued a warning Wednesday for utility customers to be alert to an apparent Green Dot prepaid debit card scam.
The scam reportedly involves individuals claiming to be electric company employees who call customers to tell them they are behind on their bills and have a short time to make a payment. The customers are told to purchase a Green Dot prepaid debit card or other type of reloadable debit card, load the card with money and then provide the serial number from the card to avoid having their electricity shut off.
CenterPoint Energy officials said Wednesday in a news release that while CenterPoint Energy does bill customers for natural gas service, it does not send bills for electric service and does not provide electric service in Minnesota. Any caller claiming to be a CenterPoint Energy employee asking for payment of an electric bill should be considered suspicious and reported to the customer’s retail electric provider, the company that bills them for electric usage, officials said.
“While we have not experienced this type of activity, we want to remind customers to report any suspicious activity to their local police department, file an identity theft report and contact their bank or other financial institution(s) to report an incident,” said Gregory Knight, vice president of CenterPoint Energy’s Call Center.
CenterPoint Energy said its phone agents, both inbound and outbound, do not request banking or credit card information over the phone. Instead, they will transfer a customer to an Interactive Voice Response system to collect payment information for natural gas bills.
Company field employees carry identification which clearly shows a photo and name. They do not ask for Social Security numbers or bank data during a field visit.
Green Dot is a legitimate reloadable debit card, but according to Scambusters.org, the card is increasingly being used by scammers to fraudulently obtain money.