A consortium of more than 140 U.S. and Canadian utility companies and their trade associations, utility scams are seeing a severe up-tick at a time when Americans are hunkering down across the country to combat COVID-19, according to Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS). It is a considerable enough threat that UUAS wants to be sure that consumers are aware of what’s going on.
“Our members are continuing with their messaging to let consumers know what threats are out there,” UUAS President Monica Martinez said. “People are at home more during this time, and scammers usually target business customers and residential accounts. And of course with everyone working from home, waiting for phone calls, there is more of a threat. Consumers need to be more vigilant.”
PSEG Long Island echoes these concerns of bad actors taking advantage during times of crisis
“In times like these, every challenge our households face is magnified,” Rick Walden, PSEG Long Island’s vice president of customer services, said. “The heightened anxiety we’re feeling is perfect for scammers, whose preferred tactic is to make people panic at the thought of getting their power shut off. That’s why it’s important for people to know that, during this crisis, PSEG Long Island is not shutting off power due to nonpayment caused by financial burdens.”
Common ruses include customers being told that they must pay an overdue bill or face immediate shut-off of electricity. Current PSEG Long Island policy is that shut-offs of electric service for non-payment have been temporarily suspended in the interest of protecting public health. In addition, PSEG Long Island does not accept payment via prepaid gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
Scam Red Flags
• You receive a call from what looks like PSEG Long Island on your caller ID.
• The caller threatens to shut off your service and demands an immediate payment by prepaid card, wire transfer or Bitcoin.
• The caller informs you that you require a new meter and demands a deposit before the installation can occur (PSEG Long Island does not require a deposit for a new meter installation).
• You are given a phone number to call back that, when called, may sound similar to PSEG Long Island’s automated call system.
What PSEG Long Island Will And Won’t Discuss Over The Phone
• A genuine PSEG Long Island representative will ask to speak to the customer of record.
• If that person is available, the representative will explain why they are calling and provide the account name, address and current balance.
• If the customer of record is not available, the PSEG Long Island representative will not discuss the account at all and ask that a message be left for the customer of record to call 1-800-490-0025.
Visit www.psegliny.com/scam for more information about various payment scams in the PSEG Long Island service area and around the country.