Utility Scam Reports Increase During COVID-19 Pandemic
BROWNSVILLE, TX – Unfortunately, scammers are not taking a break during this public health crisis. In recent weeks, the Brownsville Public Utilities Board (BPUB) has received an increase in scam reports from customers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to reports, scammers threatened to disconnect services if customers do not purchase a $350 prepaid card to pay them. In another case, two salesmen working for a solar company request information and access into customer homes. Reports indicate the salesmen do not have proper BPUB identification and are driving personal vehicles.
Currently, telephone scammers are using a technique called “spoofing” that disguises their caller ID to appear as BPUB’s main line. Spoofing makes it easier for scammers to deceive customers and makes it more difficult to immediately verify the call. BPUB will never make unsolicited home visits requesting access into customer homes or call a customer requesting payment.
Customers can avoid being victimized if they:
- Ask for a contractor badge with the BPUB logo
- Verify the identity of anyone claiming to represent BPUB by calling (956) 983-6121
- Never allow anyone into their home to conduct unsolicited or non-scheduled inspections
- Never provide Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or bank account information
BPUB, in collaboration with Hardin & Associates Consulting LLC., is continuing to schedule state-mandated customer service inspections (CSIs) for new service connections only and with a prior scheduled appointment. Before a Hardin associate visits, a customer is required to have already scheduled an appointment. Unsolicited requests for property access, payments, personal information and bank routing numbers should be reported to the Brownsville Police Department at (956) 548-7000.
BPUB is encouraging the community to practice social distancing by making account inquiries or paying bills online or by phone to help flatten the curve of COVID-19. For questions about BPUB’s efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the BPUB website at www.brownsville-pub.com or call (956) 983-6121.