Scammers Are Trying New Tricks; Con Edison Urges Customers to Be Aware
Companies Use ‘Utility Scam Awareness Week’ to Inform, Educate and Protect
Say this for the crooks looking to scam Con Edison customers: They’re always thinking.
Con Edison has received customer complaints this year about scammers with new tactics. It demonstrates that scammers have time on their hands, imagination and the gift of persistence.
One new approach is for a scammer to contact a customer and urge the customer to pay a delinquent bill and qualify for a gift card. The scammer – who may even make a Con Edison phone number show up on the customer’s caller ID screen – instructs the customer to buy a pre-paid card and load money onto it to pay the bill.
Once the customer puts money on the pre-paid card and provides the scammer with the card number, the scammer steals the money. The customer, of course, does not get a gift card and is still responsible for the bill.
This is a variation of a scam that has been common for years. In that one, the scammer calls and says the customer’s bill is delinquent, but instead of offering a gift card, the scammer makes a threat. The scammer tells the customer Con Edison will shut off service unless the customer immediately buys a pre-paid card and pays the bill.
These callers sometimes point the customer to a store that sells pre-paid cards. The scammers target residential and business customers in all parts of Con Edison’s New York City and Westchester County service area.
Con Edison does not accept payment by pre-paid debit cards, by MoneyGram or any similar transfers. The company also does not call customers and demand immediate payment.
Never arrange payment or divulge account or personal information, including debit or credit card information, over the phone unless you are certain you are speaking to Con Edison.If you are unsure call 1-800-75-CONED to check.
Con Edison is joining more than 140 electric, gas and water providers from North America in dedicating this week to educating customers on avoiding becoming victims. The companies, members of Utilities United Against Scams, have declared the week Utility Scam Awareness Week.
“Information and awareness are the best tools our customers can use to avoid being taken for hundreds, even thousands, of dollars,” said Jim Duggan, a manager in Con Edison’s Corporate Security department. “The scammers are inventive and resourceful and never stop scheming to fool people into thinking they’re working for Con Edison.”
Sometimes impostors go to a customer’s home or business and try to get money by saying the customer is delinquent on Con Edison bills.
A Manhattan restaurant owner recently gave $2,500 in cash to scammers who showed up and threatened an immediate turnoff of service. The scammer flashed a metal badge and claimed to be from Con Edison.
If someone comes to your home or business claiming to be from Con Edison, ask for identification. If you are still unsure, call 1-800-75-CONED.
Another new tactic is for a scammer to call a business or residential customer and say a glitch in Con Edison’s computer systems prevented the customer’s payments for the last several months from being recorded. These scammers then give the customer the line about needing to buy a pre-paid card.
Here’s are some other methods scammers use:
- Someone calls and says the customer owes Con Edison a deposit for a smart meter. The caller tells the customer to make an immediate payment by Bitcoin. This scam usually targets businesses.
Con Edison does not require deposits for the smart meters it is installing at homes and businesses across New York City and Westchester County. The company does not accept payment by Bitcoin.
- Thieves have been known to get into mailboxes to pull out envelopes and open those that may contain payments. Con Edison advises customers who pay their bills by mail not to place their payments in a mailbox until close to pick-up time.
- Some scammers leave messages for customers urging them to call back. When the customer calls back, they hear a recorded message identical to the one Con Edison uses.
- Some impostors who knock on a residential customer’s door try to talk their way inside to steal or even commit an assault.
Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. [NYSE: ED], one of the nation's largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately $12 billion in annual revenues and $56 billion in assets. The utility provides electric, gas and steam service to more than three million customers in New York City and Westchester County, N.Y.