The utility bill scam is back, targeting Jersey Central Power & Light customers. It's more sophisticated, but still bears the telltale flaw of a demand, by phone, out of the blue, for money.


The company issued a message on its Facebook page in response to reports of customers being harangued for non-existent past-due payments.

Typically, the caller threatens to cut off electric power unless a payment is sent immediately, usually through a pre-paid credit card such as Green Dot/Money Pak, by wire through Western Union or Money Gram, or even in person at a pre-arranged destination.

None of this is new. What's changed, though, is the technological advance. This time, the call might actually appear to be from JCP&L, through software that masks the originating point. A scammer might provide a "verification" number, which conceivably contains facsimiles of JCP&L Contact Center hold messages.

JCP&L service operators, as with any reputable company, do not threaten customers for money, nor do they insist on complicated or shady payment methods.

Customers in arrears get written notices with instructions aimed at helping to avoid discontinued service. When service staffers do call, they explain the company's standard payment options. The company also does not accept prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, and does not demand bank account or credit card numbers.

If you have digital account access at the JCP&L web site, your status is plainly shown. Their customer service number is 1-800-662-3115.

First Energy, JCP&L's parent company, also maintains a portal on its web page with information about scams and how to protect yourself against them.

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