Houston Police, BBB warn about power scams

Houston Police and the Better Business Bureau are warning about scammers who've started taking advantage of people's desperate need for power and heat. 

They say the tricksters know many people will do anything to get the heat back on, from giving out personal information to letting fake energy workers into their homes. 

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Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted, "We have reports of scofflaws impersonating @energyinsights @CNPalerts (CenterPoint Energy) employees to gain access to homes to victimize occupants. Restoring outages in our area due to the severe weather does not require entering residences. Please call 911 if you observe suspicious behavior."

"Just realize this is not happening. CenterPoint will not be coming to your door to try to get access to your home," said Leah Napoliello with the Better Business Bureau.

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"Someone could come in and steal items from your home and injure you in some way. So you just don't want to give access to strangers claiming to be with CenterPoint," she said. 

The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas posted this warning on Facebook:

"There is a scam circulating on social media asking customers to text their private account numbers. Don’t do it! We don’t need any of your info to get your power back on – we are working as fast as we possibly can."

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"They should already have that information. So you just don't want to respond to any messaging coming through text messages or social media regarding this particular issue," explained Napoliello. 

Viewers have contacted FOX 26 about scam calls.  

Pamela emailed us, "We have already had 2 calls this morning (by 9:30 am), claiming to be from Centerpoint and that they will be cutting our electricity in 45 minutes, for non-payment."  

"Just realize this is a scam. CenterPoint is not calling people saying you have to pay them in order to get your power back, due to this power outage," said Napoliello.  

Napoliello also urges anyone with burst pipes to watch out for scamming contractors who will take your money but won't make repairs.  She says to be sure to hire plumbers licensed by the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners.