The West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) has launched a campaign to alert its consumers about fraudulent text messages that threaten to disconnect power supply for not paying bills.
An official in the state power department said at least 25 such cases have been reported from Salt Lake, New Town, North and South 24-Parganas in the last month. People who received such text messages contacted the WBSEDCL, the agency that supplies power to areas not served by CESC, asking what to do.
The service provider launched an awareness campaign against such fraudulent text messages by publishing advertisements in newspapers on Thursday.
The message read: “Of late, it has come to the notice of WBSEDCL management that Consumers are receiving Fake SMS on various pretexts. It is herein clarified that WBSEDCL never sends such type of SMS.”
“If there is any pending electricity bill, WBSEDCL sends notice with stipulated time only to the registered mobile number of the Consumer from its own ID. It is our earnest plea to the Consumers not to fall prey to these FAKE SMS. For any assistance/clarification, consumers may contact the nearest customer care centre,” reads the message.
The Telegraph reported on Sunday and Wednesday how two Calcuttans – one in Kasba and the other in East Jadavpur — had lost Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh after receiving such fraudulent text messages and trying to pay Rs 11 through a link sent to them, thinking that would prevent disconnection of power supply to their homes.
Power department officials said they do not send text messages to their customers about disconnection of supply.
“The power bill for three months is generated every quarter.... Each month has a separate due date. If the payment is not made within 15 days from the due date, a disconnection notice is sent to the consumer asking for immediate payment. If the outstanding amount is not paid by
the end of that month, the power supply is disconnected the next month,” said a power department official.
“We have 542 customer care centres in the state. People should contact us at the centres for any clarification, instead of making payment through a link sent from an
Many Kolkatans have been receiving text messages saying their power supply would be disconnected within a few hours if their pending bill is not cleared immediately.
A mobile number is provided in such text messages, which people are asked to dial for assistance. Once a person calls that number, he or she is asked to download an app and share a passcode.
“By sharing the passcode, people unknowingly give access to their phone to the fraudster. Next, they ask the customer to make a payment of Rs 11 through a link sent to them, saying that paying that amount immediately would save their line from getting disconnected,” said an officer at Lalbazar who has handled multiple cases of fraudulent text messages.
After the customer pays Rs 11, the fraudster manages to steal his card-related data by assessing the phone and uses it for stealing more money from the account.