LACONIA — Ginny Sanborn of Sanborn's Auto Repair was surprised Tuesday when she received a phone call from the credit department of Eversource informing her that the firm owed an electric bill of $684 and was sixth in line to be disconnected.
"I told them I had just paid our bill and asked them to check our account," Sanborn said. "When they told me they could find my account number, I asked to speak with a supervisor. They gave me a number to call," she continued. " I spoke with another guy who told me several disconnect notices had been sent." Sanborn began to wonder if she had forgotten to pay a bill and said she would go to the Eversource office at Nickerson Business Park in Tilton, only to be told "you'll be disconnected before you get to Tilton."
Sanborn called the bank, which confirmed the check to Eversource had cleared, then drove to Tilton When Sanborn reached the office on Business Park Drive the door was locked. "I banged on the door until a secretary answered," she said. "She called the credit department and we discovered it was all a scam. "It made for an interesting day," Sanborn remarked.
Sanborn was among what she learned were hundreds of business and home owners around the state to have similar experiences.
Sergeant Steve Akerstrom of the Belmont Police said that he took complaints from four local businesses, reporting that they were called by someone purporting to represent Eversource, who said their electricity would be disconnected within an hour if they did not pay the equivalent of two monthly bills with a credit card. He said that the bookkeeper at one firm sought to purchase debit cards at a supermarket, but after buying three was denied a fourth and subsequently learned of the scam. Akerstrom said that two other businesses were on the brink of disclosing their credit card numbers before thinking better of it.
"I think they were trying to get the credit card numbers," Akerstrom said, adding that he contacted Eversource, which was aware of the scam.
Laconia police said they had also received a number of reports, all of which were referred to the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office, which has greater resources than local departments to investigate such scams.
This is not the first time Eversource has been misrepresented. The company has repeatedly explained that its employees do not call customers demanding payment immediate or threatening to disconnect electricity and asked that such calls be reported to the company at 1-800-662-7764. The company offers a guide — "Protect You & Your Family From Scams" — on its website at www.eversource.com.
The number Sanborn was given — 1-844-240-3124 — is answered with a recording as "the business contact center for Eversource." The message continues "to better direct your call, if you are calling regarding a disconnect notice, to make a payment arrangement or to make a payment please hold. Your call is being transferred to a representative and maybe recorded and monitored for quality assurance." When the extension Sanborn was given — 1206 — was dialed, the only response was a busy signal.
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