Detectives warn Tangipahoa residents of utility bill scam

HAMMOND– The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office is warning the public of a new scam involving their electricity bill.

Officials say detectives have received several complaints from citizens regarding a scammer pretending to be with Entergy. According to the citizens, they received a call from what appeared to be Entergy, where the caller ID showed Entergy’s actual number and the person on the phone identified themselves as an Entergy representative.

When the citizen answered the phone, they were informed their electricity bill was overdue, and if they failed to make a payment that same day, their electricity would be disconnected. The caller then instructed the citizen to send their payment through a pay app, such as Venmo. Fortunately, the citizens’ suspicions made them hang up immediately, at which time they called Entergy directly and discovered the call was a scam.

“In cases like this, the scammer uses a technique called “spoofing” to make it appear as if you know who is calling,” said Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards. 

According to the Federal Communications Commission, “spoofing” is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Scammers often use “neighbor spoofing,” so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number or spoof a number from a company or a government agency you may already know and trust. If you answer, they use scam scripts to steal your money or valuable personal information, which can be used in fraudulent activity.

Edwards urged the public only to make payments for utilities if they are through the normal channels allowed by the provider, such as sending a check by mail or making an online payment directly through the company website. The public is also asked to share the information with their family and friends, especially older people who are more prone to be victimized by these scammers. 

In addition, the Federal Communications Commission website provides a training video on how to avoid spoofing scams: https://www.fcc.gov/spoofing

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