Wednesday, Nov. 15 is Utility Scam Awareness Day. PSEG Long Island joins more than 100 electric, gas and water utility companies across the country and Canada to remind customers of the tricks criminals use to steal money and how to guard against falling victim to utility scams.
“Criminals are creative and persistent, preying on residential and business customers all across the nation,” said Rick Walden, vice president customer services, PSEG Long Island. “PSEG Long Island is doing its due diligence to help our customers recognize a scam and avoid becoming a victim.”
Telltale sign of a utility scam
Scammers claiming to be from PSEG Long Island will often call or email a customer with a warning that service is going to be shut off due to unpaid bills — unless the customer purchases a pre-paid card or arranges for a transfer via MoneyGram. There have even been reports that some of these scammers can spoof caller ID systems to display “PSEG Long Island.”
PSEG Long Island does not accept payments of electric bills by pre-paid debit cards, or by MoneyGram or similar transfers.
How they get your money
Pre-paid debit cards — The scammer suggests a specific store near the customer’s home to purchase pre-paid cards. The scammer instructs the customer to pay cash to put money on the card and to then to provide the number on the card. Once the customer provides the scammer with the card number, the scammer steals the money.
MoneyGram — Scammers may ask a customer to provide money from a bank account, credit card or debit card by going online or to a specified location. The money goes into a fraudulent bank account or is available for the receiver to pick up in cash.
What you should do
Be alert to the telltale sign of a scam: someone asking by telephone or email for payment in pre-paid debit cards or a MoneyGram transfer, or to send money to an out-of-state address.
Never arrange payment or divulge account or personal information, including Social Security Numbers or debit or credit card information, over the telephone unless you are certain you are speaking to a PSEG Long Island representative.
If a customer has doubts about the legitimacy of a call or an email — especially one in which payment is requested — call the utility directly at 1-800-490-0025 or visit a local PSEG Long Island Customer Service Center. Service Centers are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with locations listed on customer bills and online at: https://www.psegliny.com/page.cfm/Account/Payment/CustomerServiceCenters.