Eversource warns customers to be wary of scammers preying on fear of coronavirus

Published on Monday, 23 March 2020 15:56
Written by Ciara Hooks


HARTFORD – Operation Fuel warns the community of a third party electric supplier that is currently running an energy and utility scam targeting low-income households during this COVID-19 crisis.

The third party electric supplier claims Eversource Energy plans on increasing its charges as a result of COVID-19, but there are no current plans to increase customers’ generation rates, according to Operation Fuel.

“As we recognize this to be a public health and energy affordability issue, we are doing our best to respond to the needs of our most vulnerable and will continue processing customer requests for fuel and utility assistance for as long as we possibly can,” said Brenda Watson, executive director of Operation Fuel. “Unfortunately, scammers will use these uncertain times to benefit from people’s anxiety. It is important that customers have the most up-to-date information on the scams and call PURA to submit a formal complaint for the record.”

Operation Fuel, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel and Attorney General William Tong remind all customers to be aware of potential utility scams to help them avoid becoming victims and to contact their utility directly if they have any questions about their bills or service.

“Consumers should be aware that the scammers will use this pandemic as a way to take advantage of the most vulnerable,” Tong said. “It’s vital that we arm consumers with the resources and knowledge they need to protect themselves personally and professionally.”

Due to the current COVID-19 public health and safety concerns, effective immediately, PURA will no longer be able to respond to customer complaints and inquiries made to the agency’s toll-free telephone line. All customers are strongly encouraged to file their complaint by utilizing the Authority’s email address, PURA.information@ct.gov or the online complaint portal found on the Authority’s website at https://portal.ct.gov/pura. If you are unable to file a complaint or inquire electronically call either (860)827-2611 or (860)827-2698 to leave a message.

“Consumers should contact their utility directly if they have questions or are contacted about their rates or service, if they are currently without utility service and need to get reconnected, or if they have concerns about their ability to pay their bill during this time,” said Katie Dykes, DEEP Commissioner. “There have been several measures put in place to ensure that customers have access to utility service during this extraordinary public emergency, regardless of their ability to pay, so that they can remain safe and healthy in their homes.”

PURA has issued a moratorium on shut-offs for electricity, natural gas and water and has granted a temporary waiver of financial security deposits and balance reduction payments normally required for reconnection of service through May 1.

“If you receive suspicious communication about your utility service, contact PURA so that these scammers can be investigated and ultimately brought to account,” Acting Consumer Counsel Richard E. Sobolewski said. “The utilities are not going to be disconnecting service during this emergency and are offering increased protections and assistance to their customers.”

For customers who are currently disconnected from utility service, contact your utility provider, as reconnect fees have been waived. Watson urged individuals to call 211 or visit www.operationfuel.org for more information on how to apply for assistance.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Business, General News on Monday, 23 March 2020 15:56. Updated: Monday, 23 March 2020 15:59.