Scam Alert: New FPL/Utilities Scam
Scam Alert: Sophisticated New FPL/Utilities Scam
Recently, our office has received reports of a sophisticated new twist on an old utility provider scam. Nowadays, most of us know not to answer calls from an unknown number. If we do answer, we know to hang up if we hear something that does not sound quite right. However, this new twist may trick even the savviest consumers, so it is important to be aware and prepared!
Scammers often call and pretend to be from Florida Power and Light (FPL) or another utility provider. The call may sound like this: “Good afternoon. I am calling from FPL and there is a problem with your account. You must pay your bill NOW!”
The new call starts off the same: “Good afternoon. I am calling from FPL and we have an issue with your account. . .” Then, the scammer says: “According to our records, the credit card you authorized to automatically pay your bill each month is expired or will expire soon, and your payment is late or will not be made.”
The information the scammer provides about your credit card expiring may be correct. It is unclear whether the scammer actually knows the expiration date of your credit card, or whether it is just a guess that turns out to be accurate for some people they call.
The scammer continues: “You can quickly clear up this matter if you either provide a new credit card number or purchase a gift card to pay your balance. Because we here at FPL want to do our best to help you through this, I will stay on the phone with you and walk you through the process.”
You dig through your wallet, and find that your credit card is in fact expired or will expire soon. Then, the scammer tries to get you to either provide your new credit card information or purchase a gift card.
People who have gotten this scam as a voicemail have reported that if they call back the number left on their voicemail by the scammer, they are directed through what sounds like a legitimate FPL prompt system. The system even has hold music. At some point, you will speak to a “representative” and then be transferred to a “supervisor” to help complete the transaction. By the end of the call, the scammer may either have your new credit card information or they may have you purchase gift cards and send the gift card information.
Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If something like this has happened to you, the Elder Rights Center can help you take proactive steps to recover and protect yourself from future scams. The Area Agency on Aging also has many other resources to help older adults and caregivers. Please call us at 561-684-5885 with any questions!