Phone scammers posing as HEA collectors

Phone scammers posing as bill collectors for Homer Electric Association have targeted local business owners, seeking payment for false electric bills and threatening to cut off the target’s power as a way to take the victim’s credit card number and other financial information. HEA announced that it’s received new scam reports on April 18.

HEA hears of about three or four scams a year, Director of Member Relations Bruce Shelley wrote in an email. The recent scammers are more sophisticated than those in the past, displaying false caller ID messages that show HEA as the caller — a practice called “caller ID spoofing.”

Nonetheless, Shelley wrote, the kind of calls they make — requesting financial information and threatening immediate power cut-offs — aren’t part of HEA’s procedure. When HEA is considering shutting off a member’s power because of late payments, they mail notices beforehand. 72 hours before shutting off power, HEA staff hang a notification on the member’s door with a phone number to call before the shut-off.

“We don’t call people when we’re shutting off the power,” Shelley said. “We have them call us.”

Shelley said legitimate callers from HEA ask a member to verify their names, and sometimes verify identities by asking the last four digits of a social security number or a driver’s license number. He recommended that HEA members who suspect a phone call is a scam hang up and notify HEA. Shelley said local police advised him to direct scam reports to the Federal Investigation Bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (found online at www.ic3.gov).

Reach Ben Boettger at bboettger@peninsulaclarion.com

More in News

Two snowmachine-triggered snow slabs are seen below the weather station of Seattle Ridge in Turnagain Pass on Dec. 3, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Chris Flowers and the Chugach Avalanche Center)
Multiple avalanches in Turnagain Pass reported Friday

The center reported Saturday that current avalanche danger was considerable above 1,000 feet and moderate below 1,000 feet.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
School district changes COVID policy for close contacts

The policy went into effect on Nov. 29

This 2010 photo shows the soon-to-be-replaced Tustumena come into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia. Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced on Saturday the state would be replacing the ferry. The replacement vessel has not yet been named, and a statewide contest will be held to name the new vessel, Dunleavy said. (Homer News File)
State moves ahead with replacement of Tustumena

The state has other plans for updating the marine highway.

A sign urging COVID-19 mitigation measures hangs at a free vaccination clinic at the Y intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling highways, on Tuesday, Nov. 30 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Omicron variant spurs travel restrictions locally, nationally

It’s still unclear if the omicron strain is more dangerous than other COVID variants.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Bycatch becomes hot issue

Dunleavy forms bycatch task force.

Junetta Delong browses the shelves at the Soldotna Library Friends’ book and art sale at the Soldotna Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Something for everyone’

Library holds art and book sale fundraiser

Danny Dommek takes photos with Santa at Soldotna Creek Park on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘And to all a good night’

Soldotna celebrates Christmas in the Park

The badge for the Kenai Police Department (Clarion file)
Walmart briefly evacuated after bomb threat

The investigation is ongoing.

The new Homer Police Station, as seen Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 in Homer, Alaska. Members of the Homer Police Department officially moved into the building on Thursday. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
K-9 trooper team finds lost girl

A 12-year-old girl, poorly dressed for the elements, ran away from her downtown Homer home.

Most Read