DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. - Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. is warning Hudson Valley customers to be on alert as they stand in solidarity with utility companies in support of Utilities United Against Scams.
For the second straight year, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. participated in Utility Scam Awareness Day on Wednesday, to “help expose the tactics scammers use and educate residents and small business owners on how to protect themselves.”
According to Central Hudson, electric, water and natural gas customers throughout the country are targeted by utility scams each day. In the spirit of Utility Scam Awareness Day, they released a series of advice to help avoid being defrauded. Tips include:
- Never purchasing a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Central Hudson does not specify how customers should make a bill payment and offers a variety of payment methods, including online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
- Hanging up the phone, deleting the email or shutting the door when threatened with immediate disconnection or shutoff of service. Central Hudson follows state regulations by issuing advance notifications, and never a single call one hour or less before taking action.
- Calling Central Hudson for verification using the number on their bill, (845) 452-2700, and not the phone number the scammer provides. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.
Officials said that there are several signs residents can look for if they think a scammer is attempting to target them. Signs include:
- A threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within an hour.
- Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card – widely available at retail stores – then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment.
- Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds, and the victim’s money is gone.
“Central Hudson is promoting this important awareness campaign to help our customers recognize signs of a potential scam and to avoid becoming victimized by thieves,” Senior Vice President of Customer Services and Transmission and Distribution Operations Charles A. Freni said. "Scammers often pose as utility company employees, and threaten to disconnect customers’ utility services if they fail to make an immediate payment – typically using a prepaid card or other non-traceable form of payment."
“Central Hudson employees and authorized contractors drive marked vehicles and carry photo identification, and will always display it upon request. Freni. If there is ever any doubt, customers may call Central Hudson for confirmation.”
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