A WhatsApp message stating, “Dear Consumer Your Electricity power will be disconnected. Tonight at 9:30 pm from electricity office because your previous month bill was not update. Please immediately contact with our electricity officer 9339504201 thank you”, is being widely sent to the residents of different cities in the country. The message asks people to clear all their pending electricity bills by contacting an unknown number or else their power supply would be disconnected. A screenshot of this message was sent to our WhatsApp Tipline (+91 92470 52470) number to check the authenticity of the message. Let’s verify the claim made in the post.
Claim: A WhatsApp message asking people to pay their pending electricity bills, warns them of power disconnection to their houses.
Fact: The viral message circulating on social media is a fraudulent one. The Telangana State Southern Power Distribution Company Limited (TSSPDCL) and several other state power distribution companies issued a clarification confirming that the message is fake. Hence, the claim made in the post is FALSE.
When we searched to check whether electricity distribution companies send such warning messages to customers, we found a tweet made by the Telangana State Southern Power Distribution Company Limited (TSSPDCL) regarding a similar viral message circulating on WhatsApp. Confirming the message as fake, TSSPDCL tweeted, “Dear Consumer, TSSPDCL will never send any website links for bill payments. Be aware of fraudulent calls or messages related to electricity bill payment. Please don’t share Bank A/c details & OTP to others. We recommend u to use TSSPDCL Mobile app & Website for bill payments”. Also, one could easily spot spelling and grammatical errors in the message.
According to an article published by ‘The Tribune’, similar fraudulent messages were circulated to the residents of almost 22 cities in the country. Speaking to ‘The Tribune’ regarding this viral message, the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited Deputy Chief Engineer said, “The Electricity Department never sends SMS or WhatsApp messages regarding pending bills. A public advisory in this regard has been issued and we have warned the consumers not to make calls on the given numbers as it’s not related to any officer of the electricity wing”. The Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Limited had also published a Facebook post and clarified that the viral message is fake.
To sum it up, this WhatsApp message asking people to clear their pending electricity bills by contacting a number is a fraudulent one.