FREEHOLD — A new phone scam is targeting small businesses, perpetrated by people claiming to be bill collectors from JCP&L.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said targets so far have been a salon, a gym and a deli. Callers claim that the businesses are past their due dates for paying bilsl, and give them the opportunity to pay "within a brief period of time to avoid any embarrassment or work stoppages," the prosecutor's office said.

The prosecutor's office said some callers have demanded prepaid debit cards, or gift cards rather than more traditional forms of payment — often a sign of a scam. Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said calls like that should be red flags for customers, and that while such scams are not new, it is important for people to be aware of them.

Gramiccioni said the demands for prepaid debit cards should especially be a warning to those receiving the call. Anthony Hurley, Vice President of Operations for JCP&L said the company will not call or email customers to demand payment or risk immediate shutoff. FirstEnergy, JCP&L's parent company, does not require payment over the phone through specific methods like the prepaid cards.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of this scam should contact their local police departments immediately.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or

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