PNM is warning customers throughout New Mexico to be on the lookout for phone scams during the week of Christmas.
PNM is receiving reports that scammers are adding a false PNM caller ID or a false 505 prefix on their phone number to get customers to answer, tricking them into thinking the call is legitimate. Once they have customers on the phone, scammers pretend to be with PNM, claims the customers are behind on their bill and threatens to disconnect electricity unless customers pay within an hour with a pre-paid card or electronic banking transfer.
Nearly 1,800 scam reports have been reported to PNM this year, with 130 reports received since last month. Scammers usually demand $200-$500 for residential customers and more than $1,000 for business customers, with 91 percent of customers saying they were contacted by scammers over the phone.
Spikes in scam reports often occur during the holidays, when more people are at home and depending on electricity while cooking holiday meals. Scam reports show that customers went against their better judgement, reacted out of fear and overlooked the red flags because they were afraid to be without power over the holidays.
What to watch for:
- Scammer has a caller ID that reads PNM or will add a 505-prefix attempting to localize it.
- Scammer may know your name and address and will claim you are past-due on your PNM bill.
- Scammer will claim a technician is on the way to disconnect your power within one hour.
- Scammer will demand you pay over the phone to prevent power from being disconnected.
- Scammer only takes payment over the phone via a pre-paid card, gift card or electronic transfer.
- Scammer may call outside business hours, the weekend or on a holiday; PNM does not call at these times.
What you should do if you receive a call from a suspected scammer:
- Initiate the call yourself.Firmly tell them you will contact PNM directly using the number on your bill, which is 888-DIAL-PNM (888-342-5766) or chat with us at PNM.com.
- Don’t take the claims as truth.Check your own PNM bill to verify your balance by logging onto your PNM.com account. You may also text PNM by sending #BAL to 78766 to immediately get your account balance.
- Check the clock and calendar.Scammers often call outside of business hours or on the holidays, making it harder for you to verify and causing you to bypass red flags. PNM does not shut off power over the weekend or on holidays and never disconnects power without providing written notice in advance.
- Never give banking information over the phone unless you initiate the call to a number you know is legitimate, even if the caller insists you have a past-due bill or your electricity will be shut off. PNM does not demand banking information by email or phone, and will not force you to pay by phone as your only option.
- If the caller demands payment by a pre-paid card, gift card or wiring money, it is a scam. Legitimate companies don’t demand payment by cash reload cards (like MoneyPak, Vanilla or Reloadit), gift cards (like iTunes or Amazon), electronic bank transfer (like Zelle) or cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin).
- Listen to your instincts.If the caller is convincing but threatening, then simply hang up and initiate contact with PNM.
Report the scam. Immediately report all details of the scam, or attempted scam, to PNM at PNM.com/scams and to the FBI at IC3.gov. PNM uses the details of your report to help spread awareness of new scams, and the FBI collects the details through their Internet Crime Complaint (IC3) because these fraudsters are using VoIP telecommunication phone lines to scam customers, which is a federal crime.