Consumer scams aren't uncommon, but PSE&G says there's been a recent increase in incidents that involve phony demands for payments by con artists posing as utility workers.

(Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

The New Jersey utility company is warning customers to be cautious of callers who demand immediate payment via a pre-paid cards. In addition, PSE&G says Garden State residents should be wary of "phony utility workers showing up at their door to check a problem.”

In general, PSE&G says, phone scammers will often use scare tactics, telling consumers that their power will be shut off unless an immediate payment is made using a prepaid card.  The utility company said in a statement Wednesday that they offer several payment options and wouldn't require customers to use one type of payment.

In addition, utility companies generally don't abruptly terminate service. Customers are given warnings in the form of calls, emails, and mailed statements.

“The last thing we want to do is shut-off a customer’s service,” Greg Dunlap, vice president of Customer Operations for PSE&G, said. “We encourage them to call us so that we can work out a manageable payment plan, or direct them to a number of payment assistance plans that are available to low and moderate income customers, and senior citizens and people with disabilities.”

Dunlap said there are also scammers who go door-to-door, often dressed as utility workers, in an attempt to trick homeowners into thinking they work for PSE&G. They will claim they need to "check a problem," and once they gain access to the residence, they burglarize the home. For this reason, the utility company says, homeowners should always ask for identification before allowing workers to enter their homes. 

“The only way to protect against these scams is for customers to be cautious when contacted by someone seeking access to their home or demanding immediate payment. Even one customer being cheated is one too many," Dunlap said.

Customers who are contacted either by phone or in person and are unsure if they are being scammed should call PSE&G at 1-800-436-PSEG (7734). This number also appears on bills and the PSE&G website. Residents who believe they've been duped or who have concerned when someone posing as a worker comes to their home can also contact their local police departments.

Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at toniann.antonelli@townsquaremedia.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.

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