PSEG Long Island will join Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) to recognize the sixth annual Utility Scam Awareness Week Nov. 15-19. National Scam Awareness Week is an advocacy and awareness campaign focused on educating customers and exposing the tactics used by scammers.
“The pandemic has created financial hardship and escalated stress levels for many, many people, and that is a perfect environment for scammers to thrive,” said Rick Walden, PSEG Long Island’s vice president of Customer Services. “They create the impression of an urgent problem in the hopes that your panic will prevent you from seeing all the clues that they’re not who they appear to be. PSEG Long Island is not currently shutting off residential customers for nonpayment. Furthermore, PSEG Long Island wants to help all customers in arrears develop individualized payment agreements that will avert a shutoff and help them from falling too far behind. We participate in the UUAS awareness campaign to educate and help decrease the number of customers that fall victim to scammers.”
More than 4,085 scam calls were reported to PSEG Long Island in the first 10 months of 2021, down slightly from the more than 4,300 calls reported at the same point in 2020.
What customers should know about payment scams
- Scammers impersonating PSEG Long Island most frequently threaten to shut off power immediately unless payment is made.
- Many scammers use phone “spoofing” technology to make their number display on your phone as “PSEG Long Island.”
- PSEG Long Island is not currently shutting off residential customers for nonpayment.
- Residential and small business customers can still obtain state-mandated protections from shutoffs through Dec. 21 by calling PSEG Long Island at 1-800-490-0021 and attesting to financial hardship caused by the pandemic.
- PSEG Long Island will never request that customers use one specific method of payment.
- Scammers typically want their victims to transfer money via a web-based electronic payment service, a prepaid debit card, or even Bitcoin, sometimes asking people to buy a prepaid card at the nearest convenience store and then to read them the PIN over the phone.
- PSEG Long Island does not accept web-based electronic payment services, prepaid debit cards or Bitcoin as payment.
- Sometimes phone scammers will demand a deposit for a priority meter installation. PSEG Long Island does not require a deposit for meter installations.
- If a customer has doubts about the legitimacy of a call or an email — especially one in which payment is requested — call the company directly at 1-800-490-0025.
In-person visits from PSEG Long Island
PSEG Long Island field representatives have begun visiting residential customers with past-due account balances to discuss payment methods, accept a payment or work out a payment plan to pay down balances over time. PSEG Long Island representatives will work with customers to find the best solution for the household. Residential customers will not be shut off for non-payment at this time.
PSEG Long Island employees must carry a company ID and present it when requested. If customers have doubts, do not let the person into the house. Call PSEG Long Island at 1-800-490-0025 and a customer service representative will gladly verify if an employee has been dispatched to the location.
Occasionally, scammers may go door to door impersonating PSEG Long Island employees, flashing a fake ID and/or claiming to be a utility collection representative. The impostors may wear “uniforms” or affix false company signs to their vehicles. The scammers generally ask for personal information, which real utility representatives do not do, or offer bogus discounts. Again, if customers have any doubts, they should not let the person in, and should call 1-800-490-0025 to verify.
“It’s perfectly acceptable for the customer to hang up the phone. The scammer’s initial goal is to pressure their targets and convince them that they work for the utility,” said UUAS Executive Director Monica Martinez. “Scammers are extremely sophisticated in their tactics, and, by simply ending the call, you can end their scam. If you are unsure, you can always call back the utility by dialing the number found on your bill or on their website, and they will provide you with the correct information.”
How actual PSEG Long Island reps handle phone calls
Customers should also know what PSEG Long Island will and won’t discuss over the phone. A genuine PSEG Long Island representative will ask to speak to the Customer of Record. If that person is available, the representative will explain why they are calling and provide the account name, address and current balance. If the person on the phone does not provide the correct information, it is likely the customer is not speaking with a PSEG Long Island representative.
If the Customer of Record is not available, the PSEG Long Island representative will not discuss the account at all and ask that a message be left for the Customer of Record to call 1-800-490-0025.
PSEG Long Island is a member of the UUAS collaborative. UUAS, a consortium of more than 145 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations, has helped to create awareness of common and new scam tactics and to cease operations of nearly 5,000 toll-free numbers used against utility customers by scammers.
For more information on various payment scams reported in the PSEG Long Island service area and around the country, visit https://www.psegliny.com/myaccount/customersupport/scamsandfraud.