How to spot a utility scam — advice from PSE&G
PSE&G is joining Utilities United Against Scams and other utilities across the country to recognize the 5th Annual Utility Scam Awareness Week — a campaign focusing on educating customers and exposing tactics used by scammers.
PSE&G spokeswoman Rebecca Mazzarella said scams usually come in the form of approaches by phone, email or in person, mostly threatening to shut off a customer's service unless they receive immediate payment.
She said beware of the red flags. PSE&G will never ask for personal information over the phone unless the customer makes the initial contact. If someone shows up at a customer's door and gives that person a special phone number to call to verify a visit, don't call it. Mazzarella said only call the published PSE&G customer service number: 800-436-7734 A genuine PSE&G worker will always have identification.
If you suspect a scam, Mazzarella said, do not provide any private information such as account number, email address or your regular mailing address. Stop the communication and collect any evidence of the scammer if possible. She said that could be a phone number or email address.
What's most important is that the customer calls PSE&G customer service directly to validate a request before giving out any personal information, Mazzarella said.
She said some scams include a payment for past-due bills. Sometimes scammers will ask for a pre-payment with a discount. Unfortunately, Mazzarella said they've seen customers go out and get Bitcoin or gift cards and pay that way. She said PSE&G will never ask a customer to pay in any other format other than the traditional ways of either through the website or through the mail.
Mazzarella said the novel coronavirus pandemic has inspired a lot of creativity among scammers. They're targeting customers that are most vulnerable. She said scammers might guess correctly a business is behind on its bills — giving them an opportunity to reach out and demand payment.
Customers can go to the website dedicated solely to scams at www.pseg.com/scamalert.
As the holidays approach, Atlantic City Electric is also reminding customers to be on the lookout for imposters.
"The safety and well-being of our customers and the communities we serve is our top priority," said Derrick Dickens, senior vice president of Customer Operations and Chief Customer Officer for Pepco Holdings.