National Grid customers and local law enforcement are reporting utility billing and payment scams in upstate New York. The company asks its customers to be wary and know the
signs of scam.
Imposters claiming to be from National Grid can tell customers they have overdue balances on their utility bills, even promising savings on their next bill. Customers who have reported the scams say they have been contacted by phone and email and, in some cases, by automated check-ins.
Scammers threaten to cut service immediately unless the customer purchases a prepaid debit card for a specific amount, such as a Green Dot card, and provides the caller with the card’s account number, or for business customers, by way of Western Union money transfer. Impostors can also apply for a Social Security number and a National Grid account number. These calls don’t officially come from National Grid and instead come from scammers seeking personal information and payments.
The scenario may change, but the scammer’s goal remains the same: to scare customers into making hasty decisions that often include large payments.
National Grid contacts customers with overdue balances over the phone to offer payment options, but never requires direct payment through the use of a prepaid debit card and never accepts payment through these cards.
Crooks have become increasingly sophisticated at duplicating recorded messages and National Grid’s instructions for phone prompts, even forging the phone number on caller ID, making it harder to differentiate a Real National Grid call from a call from an impostor. Similar scams have been reported in the United States by other utilities.
Customers who believe they have been the victim of the scam should immediately contact local law enforcement authorities. If you are provided with a phone number that does not match the numbers on the billing statements, the call is likely to be a scam.
Customers should not provide account information, social security numbers to callers claiming to be from National Grid
National Grid reminds customers to be aware of red flags and offers the following tips:
• Be careful. If you think you are up to date on your National Grid account, chances are a payment call is a scam.
• Protect yourself. Make sure you are talking to a National Grid representative. Ask the caller for the last five digits of your National Grid account number. If the caller does not know your account number and is phishing for help, pick up and hang up immediately.
• Do not bite the hook. Scammers will not have access to your account information, social security number, or other personal information, and you should never provide this information if requested. National Grid representatives will know your account number.
• Scammers can also contact you via email and attempt to trick customers into clicking a link, visiting a malicious website, revealing account information, or calling a phone number.
• Although National Grid may request that payment be made by telephone, the method of payment will be at the discretion of the customer.
• Don’t fall for fear-mongering tactics and threats. National Grid will not contact customers requiring immediate payment by wire transfer, Green Dot Money-Pak, or any other
prepaid card service.
• Don’t give in to the pressure. Never – under any circumstances – offer personal or financial information to someone you cannot identify.
• Every National Grid employee wears a photo ID, and contractors working for the company are also required to carry ID. If someone asking to enter your home or business doesn’t show an ID, don’t let that person in and call National Grid or local law enforcement.
To learn more about protecting you and your loved ones from scams, please visit ngrid.com/scam.