If you are a Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking consumer, be aware while responding to any text message regarding the electricity bill. Never respond to messages other than ‘BESTSM’. BEST always sends SMS from “BESTSM” and not from any mobile number. Nine consumers reported to the BEST administration recently that they got fraudulent messages.
“A new method to dupe electricity consumers through fake text messages has surfaced in Mumbai. BEST has registered complaints with the cyber cell of Mumbai police against these fraudulent message senders, who prey on electricity consumers through fake messages asking them to pay pending power bills,” said an officer of BEST.
“It has been observed that many of our electricity consumers are receiving phishing/ fraudulent messages on their mobile phone threatening disconnection of electric supply and asking to call on a certain given mobile number. Further, when consumers call these fraudulent numbers they are guided to download certain applications and asked to do a transaction of a nominal amount online. The cheater then steals the password/OTP of the consumer. Consumers therefore have reported fraudulent withdrawal of money from their bank accounts,” further added officials.
“BEST would like to inform its consumers that BEST always sends SMS from “BESTSM” and not from any mobile number. If you receive billing or disconnection SMS from a number other than “BESTSM” asking you to contact a particular mobile number, please do not respond to it. It may be a fraudulent SMS prompting you to make online transactions to steal your passwords and OTP pins and defraud you. BEST Customer Care calling numbers for respective wards are available on BEST website www.bestundertaking.com. These may be approached for any help/guidance,” said Lokesh Chandra, general manager of BEST adding that consumers are requested to practice caution while dealing with any such message and protect their passwords / OTPs from being revealed to such fraudulent calls/ persons. According to Lokesh Chandra, this type of incidence has increased dramatically in the recent past.
Asked about how many consumers were cheated by these fraudulent message senders, an official of BEST electricity department, said, “As of now we received nine complaints form different consumers regarding fraudulent messages, some of them also cheated”. According to the BEST officials, the gang members involved in this fraud, send messages to electricity consumers on their mobile phones through different numbers. The message reads asking the consumers to pay their pending bills or their power connection will be cut. When the victim calls up the number, the receiver tries to engage the unsuspecting customer for a long duration to extract personal data. Worried that the ‘gang’ might pull off a bigger fraud act, BEST has lodged the official complaint with the cyber cell of Mumbai police.