PNM is warning customers throughout New Mexico to be on the lookout for Christmas phone scams during the week of Christmas.
PNM is receiving reports that Christmas Phone Scam scammers are adding a false PNM caller ID or are adding a false 505 prefix on their phone number to get you to answer, duping you into thinking it is legitimate.
Once they have you on the phone, the scammer pretends to be with PNM, claims you are behind on your bill, and threatens to disconnect your electricity unless you pay within an hour with a pre-paid card or electronic banking transfer.
More than 5,300 scam reports have been reported to PNM this year, with 3,200 reports received since November.
Christmas Phone Scammers usually demand between $200-$500 for residential customers and more than $1000 for business customers. Spikes in scam reports often occur during the holidays when more people are at home and are dependent on electricity while cooking Thanksgiving meals.
Scam reports show that customers went against their better judgement, reacted out of fear, and overlooked the red flags of the scam explaining 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, address, and will claim you are past-due on your PNM bill
- Scammer will claim a technician is on their way to disconnect your power within 1-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
- If the caller is calling at odd hours, the weekend, or on a holiday, it’s a scam.
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).
- Don’t take the claims as truth. Check your own PNM bill to verify your balance. 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 by reacting out of fear.
- 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 yourself.
Report the Christmas Phone Scam:
PNM is asking customers to report the Christmas Phone Scam to PNM at the phone number printed on your bill, 888-DIAL-PNM, because the more information received about the scam may prevent another person from falling victim to this crime.
If you would like to take it a step further, PNM is working the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) because these fraudsters are using VoIP telecommunication phone lines to scam customers out of money, which is a federal crime.
By reporting the details of any scammers that may have contacted you, the FBI gather information to track and analyze it against similar scams and suspects.
With headquarters in Albuquerque, PNM is the largest electricity provider in New Mexico, serving 525,000 customers in dozens of communities across the state. PNM is a subsidiary of PNM Resources, an energy holding company also headquartered in Albuquerque. For more information, visit PNM.com.