National Grid customers and local law enforcement are reporting utility billing and payment scams across upstate New York. The company is asking its customers to beware and know the signs of a scam.
Imposters claiming to be from National Grid may tell customers that they have past due balances on their utility bills, even promising a savings on their next bill. Customers who reported the scams, say they were contacted by telephone and email, and in some cases automated recordings.
The scammers threaten that service will be shut off immediately unless the customer purchases a prepaid debit card in a specific amount, such as a Green Dot card, and provides the caller with the card’s account number, or in the case of business customers, by way of a Western Union money transfer. Imposters also may ask for a Social Security number and a National Grid account number. These calls are not officially from National Grid and instead are from scammers who are looking to obtain personal information and payments.
The scenario can change, but the goal of the scammer remains the same: scare customers into making hasty decisions that often include large payments.
National Grid does contact customers with past due balances by phone to offer payment options, but never demands direct payment through the use of a prepaid debit card and never accepts payment through these cards.
Scammers have become increasingly sophisticated in replicating National Grid’s recorded messaging and directions for phone prompts, even spoofing the phone number on caller ID, making it more difficult to differentiate an actual National Grid call from an imposter’s call. Similar scams have been reported across the U.S. by other utilities.
Customers who believe they have fallen victim to the scam should contact local law enforcement officials immediately. If you are provided a phone number that does not match numbers on the billing statements, it is likely that the call is a scam.
National Grid reminds customers to know the red flags and offers the following tips:
Be vigilant. If you believe you are current on your National Grid account, it is highly likely a call seeking payment is a scam.
Protect yourself. Verify you are speaking with a National Grid representative. Ask the caller to provide the last five digits of your National Grid account number. If the caller doesn’t know your account number and phishes for help, take charge and hang up immediately.
Do not take the bait. Scammers will not have access to your account information, social security number or other personal details and you should never offer that information if asked. National Grid representatives will know your account number.
Scammers also may contact you by email and attempt to lure customers into clicking on a link, visiting a malicious website, revealing account information, or calling a phone number.
While National Grid may ask for a payment to be made over the phone, the payment method will be left to the customer’s discretion.
Do not fall for scare tactics and threats. National Grid will not contact customers demanding immediate payment by wire transfer, Green Dot Money-Pak or any other prepaid card service.
Do not cave to pressure. Never -- under any circumstances -- offer personal or financial information to someone who you cannot identify.
Every National Grid employee carries a photo ID card, and contractors working for the company are also required to carry ID. If someone requesting entry into your home or business does not show an ID card, don’t let that person in, and call National Grid or local law enforcement.
To learn more about protecting you and your loved ones from scams, please visit ngrid.com/scam.