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Payment Apps Are Now Scammers' Favorite Way to Steal From Customers

Con Edison Ramping Up Warnings During Scam Awareness Week; #StopScams

Demanding payment with apps like Cash App, Venmo and Zelle is now the favorite dirty trick of scammers who contact Con Edison customers to steal their money.

Scammers call the company’s customers and tell them they must make an immediate payment using a payment app to avoid having their service shut off.

Con Edison does not accept payment via these platforms and does not demand immediate payment. Any customer who gets a request to pay a Con Edison bill by Cash App, Venmo, Zelle or a similar platform should hang up the phone.

“The emergence of payment apps as the favorite method of scammers shows how inventive these people are,” said James Duggan, a department manager in Con Edison’s Corporate Security group. “They never stop looking for dirty tricks they can use to steal from our customers. We want to be just as relentless in urging our customers to recognize signs that someone is a scammer.”

Con Edison gets complaints every day from customers who received calls from impostors claiming to be from the company and demanding money.

It is an expensive and painful problem. In 2021, scammers have taken Con Edison customers for more than $550,000. But the problem is probably much more widespread, as the company believes that many people who are targeted do not file complaints.

The scammers target residential and business customers in all parts of Con Edison’s New York City and Westchester County service area. Spanish-speaking customers often receive calls from scammers who are fluent in Spanish.

Scam callers can even make a Con Edison phone number show up on the customer’s caller ID.

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 and Wednesday Utility Scam Awareness Day.

The theme of this year’s campaign is “End the Call, End the Scam.” Customers who receive a suspicious call should hang up and dial 1-800-75-CONED to check as to whether the call was legitimate.

Those targeted by scams can also notify their local police department or the New York State Public Service Commission, at 800-342-3377.

Though scammers are trying new tricks, they’re still using their old tricks.

The company still gets reports of calls from scammers who instruct the customer to buy a pre-paid card to avoid an immediate service turnoff. These callers sometimes point the customer to a store that sells pre-paid cards.

Once the customer puts money on the card and provides the scammer with the card number, the scammer steals the money.

Con Edison does not accept payment by pre-paid debit cards, MoneyGram or similar transfers.

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.

When a customer gives money to a scammer, the scammer will often claim that the payment did not go through and demand another payment. The company has gotten reports from customers who provided multiple payments totaling thousands of dollars to a scammer.

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 and threatening a service turnoff.

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.

Customers should also be aware of these scammer tactics:

  • A scammer may call a business or residential customer and say a computer glitch prevented the customer’s payments from being recorded. These scammers then urge the customer to buy a pre-paid card.
  • 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 smart meters or accept payment by Bitcoin.
  • Some impostors who knock on a residential customer’s door try to talk their way inside to steal or even commit an assault.

Learn more on avoiding scams. Con Edison's website offers approved options for bill payment.