PSEG Long Island is warning customers that there has been a recent uptick in the number of people falling victim to utility scams as scammers’ methods have become more sophisticated and believable.
The electric utility offers advice on how to recognize a scam before sending any money.
The most common of these scams happens over the phone — and the scam calls are only getting more frequent, PSEG reports. There have already been 4,000 reports of scam calls so far this year, compared to 4,088 in all of 2018. An unknown number of calls go unreported.
Some customers recently said they received calls that caller ID falsely identified as being from “PSEG Long Island.” The scammers claim to be from PSEG and demand payment for past-due bills or priority meter installation and threaten to disconnect service if immediate payment is not made. They ask for payment methods that PSEG would never ask for, including prepaid cards such as Green Dot Money Pak and Vanilla Reload Card, or the cryptocurrency bitcoin.
“Signs that a call may not be legitimate include a request for a specific payment type or a sense of urgency on the part of the caller,” said Rick Walden, the PSEG Long Island vice president of customer operations, in a statement. “Our representatives will never demand payment and, though we offer a variety of payment options, they do not include prepaid debit cards or bitcoin. Additionally, if a customer is scheduled for disconnection due to nonpayment, they will receive written notice on their bill at least 10 days in advance.”
PSEG warns that if customers receive a call from anyone demanding immediate payment, do not provide any personal or account information. Instead, hang up and call PSEG Long Island at 1-800-490-0025.
Email scams may request personal information without first logging into the PSEG Long Island website for account holders, psegliny.com, or may include malicious email attachments or links.
Scammers may also come to a home in person and pretend to be from PSEG in order to gain entry and steal items, according to PSEG. Actual employees wear an ID badge and PSEG-branded clothing. Customers wishing to know if actual PSEG employees are in their area may call 1-800-490-0025.
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