JEA is warning its customers to keep an eye out for phone calls coming from scammers posing as public utility employees.
“Today alone JEA has received almost 30 reports from customers, both residential and commercial, who have received a call from a scammer demanding payment,” Gerri Boyce, Manager of Media Relations with JEA, said Tuesday.
Those 30 calls were all received before 2 p.m.
The sharp spike in calls started this week, Boyce said. “What we’ve seen over the last four years is that it’s very fierce for a week or two, then it calms down. And then it starts back up again, so we’re obviously on an uptick in their cycle it seems.”
The scammers, posing as employees, call local residents and businesses, and threaten to disconnect service if a large sum of money isn’t paid to them. The scammers have been largely targeting Hispanic customers, according to Boyce said.
She added the scammers target people whose first language isn’t English.
“They are very sophisticated. If you have caller ID it’ll go through as JEA. They know your name, they know your address,” Boyce said.
They may claim that the customer is behind on payments or that a utility meter needs to be replaced.
The scammers instruct the JEA customers to purchase a “MoneyPak” payment card from Winn-Dixie, CVS or Walgreens and provide the pin number and card information in order to prevent service from being disconnected.
JEA noted that potential signs of a scam to look out for are:
- A threat to disconnect service.
- A request for an immediate payment, usually in less than an hour.
- A request for a prepaid card.
Residents who receive one of these calls are urged to notify JEA at (904) 665-6000. Commercial customers may call (904) 665-6250 to speak with a JEA business support team representative.
More information can be found on JEA’s website.