Learn the telltale signs of utility scams
It's Utility Scam Awareness Week and PSE&G is teaming up with Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) to launch an awareness campaign focused on educating consumers and exposing the tactics used by scammers.
PSE&G wants to remind customers to be on alert to scams, especially ones demanding bill payment by using a digital money transfer, a prepaid credit card or offering a bill discount due to a good payment history.
It's a problem the company says has gotten worse since the pandemic.
“The pandemic has created financial hardship and escalated stress levels for many of our customers, and that is a perfect environment for scammers to thrive,” said Deb Affonsa, PSE&G’s vice president Customer Care and chief customer officer.
What are the signs of a utility scam?
- You receive a call from what looks like PSE&G on your caller ID.
- The caller threatens to shut off service and demands immediate payment by cash, prepaid cards or digital money transfer apps.
- The caller tells the victim he or she needs a new meter and demands a deposit before installation can occur. (PSE&G does not require any deposit for a new meter installation)
- The targeted victim is given a phone number to call back that, when called, may sound similar to PSE&G'S automated call system.
- The caller alerts that because of a person's good bill-paying history, he or she is eligible for a bill reduction, but certain information must be provided first.
What PSE&G will and won't discuss with customers over the phone:
- PSE&G never requires payment with a prepaid card and does not offer bill discounts.
- PSE&G does not accept any payment via prepaid gift cards, digital money transfer apps or cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
- A genuine PSE&G representative will ask to speak to the account owner. If that person is available, the customer service agent will explain why they are calling and provide the account name, address and current balance.
- If the owner is not available, the PSE&G rep will not discuss the account at all and ask that a message be left for the Customer of Record to call 1-800-436-PSEG (7734).
What should a targeted victim do?
According to UUAS, the best tactic to take is to not engage with the scammer and disconnect the call.
"Scammers are extremely sophisticated in their tactics, and, by simply ending the call, you can end their scam," said UUAS Executive Director Monica Martinez.
Not sure you're being scammed? Simply call back the utility by dialing the number found on your bill and they will provide you with the correct information.
PSE&G is New Jersey's largest gas and electric service provider.
For more information, visit pseg.com/scamalert.