PSE&G customers warned of ‘old scam with a new twist’
It's an "old scam, but with a new twist," and if PSE&G is your service provider, you could be the next victim.
A new scam, primarily targeting small businesses, has fraudsters threatening to cut off power to customers unless they pay a bogus electric bill. But unlike the multitude of previous scams, this one has scammers using a robo-calling type system that mimicks the recorded PSE&G's automated phone system.
“This is an old scam with a new twist,” said Greg Dunlap, vice president of Customer Operations for PSE&G said in a press release on the power company's website. “Now some scammers are imitating PSE&G’s interactive voice response system prompt menu, so when customers call them back, they hear something similar to what they would experience if they called PSE&G’s customer service line. The number of calls we’ve received from customers alerting us to this scam has increased significantly in the past several weeks.”
"In the last several weeks, we've seen that spike to 6,7 a day," said Brooke Houston, PSE&G spokesperson.
The scam works like this: Someone pretending to be a PSE&G employee will call a customer, warning them that unless an immediate payment is made using a prepaid debit/credit card, the service will be disconnected. The customer is then told to call a certain number when they have the card. At that time, the interactive voice system leads the caller to a fake representative who takes the prepaid card number.
"After the scammers have that number, they can take the money from the card, usually within a matter of minutes," Houston said.
What customers need to know, according to PSE&G:
- Be wary of callers who demand immediate payment and threaten service termination.
- When PSE&G reached out to customers, "customer-specific information is shared with the customer." If the customer does not hear accurate information about their account, it's likely that the call is not genuine.
- Any customer who has doubts about the legitimacy of a call from PSE&G should call PSE&G directly at 1-800-436-PSEG (7734).
- Another sign that the call may be genuine: PSE&G customers scheduled for disconnection due to nonpayment receive written notice on their bill at least 10 days in advance.
Matthew White contributed to this story.
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor at NJ 101.5. Reach her at email@example.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.