National Grid is warning customers of a utility billing and payment scams that have been reported across upstate New York. Scammers claiming to be from National Grid will tell customers that they have a past due balance on their utility bill, possibly promising savings on their next bill. The scammers then threaten that service will be shut off immediately if the customer doesn’t pay a specific amount with a prepaid debit card.
Authorities said the scammer often requires payment with a prepaid debit card, often a Green Dot card. The scammer will also try to ask for the victim’s Social Security number and National Grid account number.
National Grid officials said they do contact customers about past due balances over the phone, and even offer payment options. However, National Grid said they do not demand direct payment via prepaid debit card, and do not accept such a payment.
Officials warned that scammers have become very good at replicating recorded messages and phone prompts, and can spoof the number on your caller ID. Officials add that customers should know if they are current on your billing. If you know you don’t owe any money, you’ll know if you’re being scammed.
• Protect yourself. Verify that you are speaking with a National Grid representative by asking the caller to provide the last five digits of your account number. If the caller doesn’t know the number and tries to talk it out of you, hang up immediately.
• Do not take the bait. Scammers do not have access to your account information, so they may try to trick you into giving that information to them. A real National Grid employee will have your account number.
• Don’t click any links. If a scammer contacts you by email, do not click any link they provide. The link will likely go to a malicious website that will steal your account information.
• Do not pay via prepaid debit cards. National Grid may ask for payment over the phone, and they leave the payment method up to the customer’s discretion. Anyone demanding a certain type of payment, especially by prepaid gift card, is likely a scam.
• Do not fall for scare tactics and threats. National Grid will not demand immediate payment.
• Do not cave to pressure. Scammers are trained in tactics to wear you down. Do not put up with it and just hang up.
• Every National Grid employee carries a photo ID card. Contractor workers doing a job for National Grid must also have ID. If someone tries to enter your home or business claiming to be from National Grid, ask to see their ID.
Anyone who believes they have fallen victim to a National Grid scam should contact their local law enforcement agency immediately.