FPL warns of bill payment scam

Text asks for FPL account number to help pay bill

By Jacey Birch - Anchor/Animal Advocate

MIAMI - Florida Power and Light is warning customers of a bill payment scam.  

The con works when victims offer up their personal information, thinking in exchange that their utility bill will be paid for.

But instead, their identity could be stolen.

"Someone called me on the phone and told me Obama was paying light bills, so I'm like, okay, cool. Anybody wants their light bill to paid," said Janet.  

Janet fell victim to the scam and wanted to warn others of what happened to her.

With an expensive $400 bill and an assumption that this so-called "gift" was a federal grant, Janet jumped at the the chance to get government help with her utility bill payments.   

"I went ahead and did it, not knowing it's a scam," she said.

It began with a text, seeming to be legitimate.

"It came from a company so you would think it's FPL but I guess not," Janet said.

Next, the faux company asks not for your personal information directly, but your FPL account number, which then leads the scam artists to your personal info.

"They give you a routing number and then you have to put in your FPL account number and once I did that, they gave me a confirmation number and I thought my light bill was paid," said Janet.

Instead, an automated call from FPL three days later confirmed that Janet, along with more than 4,000 other customers, had been taken.

"It was a fraud and we're not going to charge late fees and bounced check fees," Janet said, describing the automated recording. "But you still have to pay for your bill."

Besides the unpaid utilities, the con can still be much worse.

"It's for identity theft," said Marie Bertot with FPL. "We want to prevent FPL customers from being victimized."

Marie said that FPL will never contact customers for their billing or personal information, and that customers can always call the company to make sure a offer is legit if it sounds too good to be true.

So far, 4,500 customers in Florida have been taken by this scam and there may be others.

If you think you have fallen victim, you can call the State Attorney General's Office or the Better Business Bureau.

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