Officials on Long Island are warning area residents to be wary of a new telephone scam making the rounds with fraudsters attempting to solicit cash.
Several Suffolk County residents and businesses have recently reported receiving fabricated automated recordings claiming to be from PSEG Long Island demanding a gift card to pay off a debt or service will be cut off.
Police said that customers who are up to date on their las have been receiving phone calls from scammers that are spoofed to appear with “PSEG Long Island” on the Caller ID, threatening to shut down power unless they pay a sizable fine.
Nearly 4,000 scam calls have been reported to PSEG Long Island so far this year, compared with 4,088 scam calls reported in all of 2018, the company said. Recent weeks have seen an increase in the number of people tricked by these calls.
Officials said that the scammers often demand payment through a pre-paid card or bitcoin. If the victim is duped, the scammer offers a telephone number where a fake representative requests additional information to complete the fraudulent transaction.
“These utility scams are designed to appear authentic, with fraudsters posing as legitimate company representatives and even using a fake caller ID with ‘PSEG' displayed,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.
“The scams claim that the utility customer is in arrears on his or her payments, and if they do not pay money owed immediately their power will be shut off, even going so far to say that they should meet a company representative in-person so that they can pay their bill with a gift card.”
Bellone noted that anyone that receives a potentially fraudulent call “can report it by calling 3-1-1, Suffolk County’s newly established non-emergency line for government services. Our trained Call Center representatives will be able to help determine if the call is legitimate, and, if necessary, refer scams to the proper law enforcement authorities.”
"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," Rick Walden, vice president of customer operations for PSEG Long Island, said. "Our representatives will never demand payment and, though we offer a variety of payment options, they do not include pre-paid 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 Long Island noted that:
- PSEG Long Island offers a variety of payment options and would never require a specific type of payment.
- PSEG Long Island customers scheduled for disconnection due to nonpayment receive written notice on their bill at least 15 days in advance.
- If any residents ever doubt the legitimacy of a call from PSEG Long Island, especially if payment is demanded, they have been advised to hang up and call the company directly at 1-800-490-0025.
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