Utilities Unite Against Scams

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According to the Federal Trade Commission, more than 3 million consumers filed fraud complaints last year. Debt collection, identity theft and imposter scams were the most common complaints. That’s likely just a fraction of the fraud being perpetrated in this country.

In one common “impostor scam,” someone pretending to be a utility employee calls and threatens shut-off within an hour if they do not receive immediate payment via a pre-paid card. Victims are given a phony phone number to call back after they have purchased the cards at the closest retail store.

Scammers are growing more sophisticated – using technology to spoof caller ID numbers and mimic voice prompts heard on a legitimate customer service line. When the customer calls back with payment, a fake representative asks for the pre-paid card number or the number on the receipt. Within seconds the money is gone.

These thieves can – and do – target anyone. But they more often target small business customers because they have larger bills than residential customers, but don’t have the checks and balances of a large business.

Some stories are heartbreaking. An employee at an animal hospital withdrew money from her personal bank account to pay a thief. A dental assistant did the same. On the Friday before the busy Labor Day weekend, a pizzeria owner was conned out of $2,500. When told his payment did not go through, he paid again.

To combat these con artists, more than 40 utilities across North America — including PSE&G — have joined forces to share information, resources and scam-fighting best practices. The collaborative established the third Wednesday in November “Utilities United Against Scams Day.”

capture2Utilities are taking this opportunity to educate the public about scams. Go to www.pseg.com/scamalert to learn how to spot red flags. Please report scam attempts to your utility, local police department and the FTC. This data will help us combat the con games.

There is a reason the IRS scam call center bust last month in India made big news. Hiding behind an untraceable phone, sometimes half a world away, scammers know it’s doubtful they will be caught. By increasing customer awareness and educating people about how to spot a scam, we can spare many would-be victims and make the thieves’ underhanded job a lot harder.

 

Greg Dunlap, Vice President – Customer Operations – PSE&G

One thought on “Utilities Unite Against Scams

  1. Hello Mr. Dunlap,

    I am a customer of PSEG New Jersey. There has been an ongoing problem regarding my service that I must bring to your attention.

    I moved into my apartment in December, 2017. Sometime in the early fall, I came home to my electric being disconnected. My bill wasn’t in arrears, so I called customer service. They discovered that my meter and the meter for the tenant in Apt # 5 were crossed. Within a few hours, I was reconnected. The process was quick and professional. I thought it was the end of the problem.

    Earlier this year, my power was turned off again. The tech came out and restored me–explaining that the meter wiring was actually crossed. I notified my apartment management company. But PSEG didn’t do anything about it.

    It’s important for you to know that I have sleep apnea and sleep with a CPAP machine every night. If I don’t, I don’t sleep and my heart can develop a fatal irregular beat that can lead to death. I take this very seriously. Your employees do not.

    This past Friday afternoon, June 15, as I was getting ready for work, my power was disconnected. Happily, the tech was still here. I told him about the confusion and that he wasn’t disconnecting #5 for non-payment. I asked him to contact his superiors to show there is a history of this issue. He ignored me. I begged him to see that it was my apt without electricity. He refused. He had “orders.” Like a good German. So, he left and I called customer service as I drove to work. She promised that an “emergency order” had been placed and my electric would be restored.

    I work for AAA as a call center rep from 3-11. I got home at 11:30 to discover my power was STILL off. I called cs again, and was promised the night crew would get to me. I explained about my sleep apnea. After 2 hours of waiting, I called again to AGAIN tell the reps that needed my machine to sleep, or I could die. They simply didn’t care and said it could take until morning.

    After a restless night, my power was restored sometime in the morning. I spoke with someone after posting on your FB page. She wanted to blame me because I should have told my landlord. I told her to contact them–I’m not the owner. So even your cs supervisors are incompetent.

    I want compensation. I want my current bill and next month’s bill waived. I want a written promise that this problem will be corrected asap. And if this happens again,I will hire lawyer and sue.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Regards,
    Linda S Mastellone

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