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Be on alert for HECO scams during the holidays

man sitting on desk holding iphone and credit card
iphone credit card

Happy Friday my friend!

It's been a busy week for cybercriminals - they must have year-end quotas or something. They're now targeting Hawaii residents by impersonating Hawaiian Electric Company.

For example, according to Big Island Now, just a few weeks ago a scammer called a local business from a spoofed HECO phone number. They told the owner that his account was "past due" and that service would be disconnected within 2 hours unless he paid $1,400 in Bitcoin.

The scammer then walked the victim through the steps of going to a nearby gas station to "pay his bill" by depositing cash into a Bitcoin machine. It wasn't until over $500 had been fed into the machine that the victim decided to call HECO and get to the bottom of it.

The Takeaway

In hindsight it was obviously a scam but remember, these are professional crooks. They know how to manipulate and frighten most anyone into action. Look, we're all human and don't always think straight when in a fearful or panicked state of mind and are thus subject manipulation.

Here's how you can keep this from happening to you:

  • If you get a call from anyone claiming to be from HECO (or any utility for that matter) saying your account is delinquent and threatens to shut off service immediately unless payment is made, it’s a scam. Don’t be fooled by the caller ID, which can be manipulated to show a legitimate phone number. Hang up immediately. Yes, it's okay to be rude and hit that "end call" button while they're in mid-sentence.

  • If someone from ‘Hawaiian Electric’ contacts you and demands immediate payment by methods not listed at (such as Bitcoin or gift cards), it’s a scam.

  • If the caller asks to meet you in person to pick up a payment, it’s a scam.

  • If you receive an email urging you to click on an embedded link or attachment to pay a bill, think before you click. It’s likely a scam.

  • If someone shows up at your home or place of business claiming to be from Hawaiian Electric, ensure that person is wearing official attire with a logo, driving a properly labeled vehicle and carrying company identification. When in doubt, call customer service.

These cyber criminals aren't backing down - neither should you. Let's do our part to help keep the community protected.

Stay safe out there.


New Friday Funnies

Q: What did Dad say when he was asked to say grace? A: "Grace."


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