PSEG Long Island Raises Awareness of Utility Scams During National Consumer Protection Week
PSEG Long Island encourages customers to learn how to spot the signs of fraud and scams, and report them.
This week PSEG Long Island joins Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) to recognize National Consumer Protection Week, which aims to educate customers on how they can guard against becoming victims of impostor utility scams.
“To better protect customers, it is critically important we continue to raise awareness and educate customers about scams,” said Rick Walden, vice president of Customer Services at PSEG Long Island. “Scammers continue to adapt and develop increasingly sophisticated tactics to take advantage of our customers.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers have increased calls, texts, emails and in-person tactics, and they continue to contact utility customers asking for immediate payment to avoid service disconnection. PSEG Long Island will never send a single notification to a customer within one hour of a service disconnection. The company will also never ask customers to make payments with a prepaid debit card, gift card, any form of cryptocurrency or third-party digital payment mobile applications.
PSEG Long Island does not accept payments through prepaid debit cards or mobile payment services. PSEG Long Island offers a variety of payment options and would never require one specific type of payment.
As a member of UUAS — consortium of 146 U.S. and Canadian electric, water and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations — PSEG Long Island works across the industry with regulators, law enforcement, and telecommunications partners to stop scams targeting utility customers.
UUAS and its member companies continue to create awareness of common and new scam tactics and, to date, have helped to cease operations of more than 10,000 toll-free numbers used against utility customers by scammers.
“Even in the middle of a pandemic that is affecting everyone and causing economic hardship for many, we still are dealing with scammers who are preying on families and small businesses,” said UUAS Executive Director Monica Martinez. “UUAS is working directly with utility companies to help educate customers so they can be aware of and avoid utility scams during these trying times. We are shutting down fraudulent toll-free numbers, highlighting current and common scam tactics, and providing resources to customers to help them better protect themselves from the impostors who attempt to steal their money and their peace of mind.”
Recent phone scams reported to PSEG Long Island include demands for payment for past-due bills or priority meter installations. Often scammers will threaten to disconnect electric service if payment is not made immediately.
Signs of Potential Scam Activity:
- Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell a customer that his or her utility bill is past due and that service will be disconnected if a payment is not made. Typically, the scammer will tell the customer that a disconnection will come within an hour.
- Request for immediate payment via prepaid card/mobile payment: Scammers may instruct a customer to purchase a prepaid card and call a number or pay directly via a mobile payment service to make an immediate bill payment to his or her utility company. Once the funds are received from a prepaid card, there is no way to refund or reverse the transaction.
- Fraudulent electronic communications: Scammers may disguise themselves as the utility by sending spam emails with logos, trademarks, website links and wording to lure the customer into making a false payment or providing personal information.
- Priority Meter Installations: Scammers call customers asking for an upfront deposit for a meter installation. PSEG Long Island does not do priority meter installations or require a deposit to upgrade a meter.
How Customers Can Protect Themselves:
- Customers should never purchase a prepaid card or pay via mobile payment services to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. PSEG Long Island does not accept prepaid cards or mobile payment services as payment, and utility companies always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill, including online, phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in-person payments.
- If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification, typically by mail and included with their regular monthly bill. Companies never send a single notification within one hour of service disconnection.
- If customers suspect a scammer, they should double check by calling their utility company at the number on their monthly bill or the company’s website, not the phone number the scammer provides. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 9-1-1.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with a scammer should contact their local utility company or law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s website also provides additional information about protecting personal information and other information regarding impostor scams.
Visit www.psegliny.com/scam for more information about how PSEG Long Island’s customers can protect themselves against the most common scams in the area.
Visit www.utilitiesunited.org for more information and tips on how customers can protect themselves from impostor utility scams, and follow along with UUAS on Twitter and Facebook.