SAN ANTONIO – When Cindy May’s phone rang last week, trouble was on the line.
An impostor claiming to be with CPS Energy was calling about her bill, a call that evolved into demands for payment and threats of cutting off her power.
“It was very scary because he sounded so professional and so real,” she said. “He said it was in default and a technician was on the way to my house at that time to disconnect my services.”
To keep the lights and air conditioner on, May would have to pay $2,000 on the spot by providing her debit account number. She was puzzled, though, because she’d just received her bill that showed she was current.
“He said, 'We need to have this money right now – $2,000,'” May said. “And I’m looking at the bill and asking, ‘What is going on?’”
What’s going on is fraud, and it’s escalating. Last year, CPS Energy reports, 1,799 customers reported that they were victims of scams and were taken for a total of $52,000. That’s a $20,000 increase over 2017.
Often, the victims in such scams are tricked into buying prepaid debit or gift cards and providing the codes on the backs.
The utility is now warning customers.