As part of the Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) “Utility Scam Awareness Week,” Central Hudson is working to increase awareness of scam prevention methods during the week of Nov. 17.
"Central Hudson is taking part in this important awareness campaign and is working together with UUAS to help our customers avoid becoming victimized," said Charles A. Freni, President and CEO of Central Hudson, adding that scammers often represent themselves as utility company employees in an attempt to steal personal information.
Both homeowners and businesses have been targeted in utility scams, and reports show that it’s often successful. The median loss for a utility scam victim is $500, according to the Better Business Bureau’s 2018 Scam Tracker Risk Report. Furthermore, Freni warns that nearly 60 percent of scams reported nationally affect business customers.
Typically, scammers will threaten to shutoff services unless immediate payment is made. Sometimes, the scammer can “spoof” the caller ID to make the call seem as though it is originating from the utility company itself.
Common signs that may indicate this type of scam include:
- Bill Payment or Credit Con (Scammers provide a phony account routing number to pay utility bills, receive a credit or obtain federal assistance)
- Equipment or Repair Bogus Fee (Scammers call demanding a separate payment to replace or install a utility-related device or meter)
- Overpayment Trick (Scammers call claiming that a customer has overpaid their utility bill, and request personal bank account information or a credit card number to receive a refund)
- Smishing Scam (Smishing, short for SMS phishing, attempts to trick mobile phone users into giving scammers personal information via text or SMS messages, which can then be used for identity theft)
- Bogus Bills (Scammers send suspicious emails that appear to be a utility bill, potentially featuring the utility's logo and color scheme)
Central Hudson urges its customers to protect themselves by keeping the following safety tips in mind:
- Never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. The company offers a variety of payment methods including online, by phone, credit card, automatic bank draft, U.S. mail or in person.
- Hang up the phone, delete the email or shut the door when threatened with immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, if this was the first and only notification. Central Hudson follows state regulations by issuing advance notifications.
- Call Central Hudson for verification using the number on your bill, (845) 452-2700, and not the phone number the scammer provides. Call 911 if you believe you are in physical danger.
"Central Hudson follows all regulations in communicating with customers about their accounts," said Freni. "Employees and authorized contractors drive marked vehicles and carry photo identification, and will always display it upon request. If there is ever any doubt about the authenticity of a contact, whether in person, online or by phone, customers should call Central Hudson for confirmation."
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