Awareness Is Best Tool for Customers to Protect Against Scammers
The crooks trying to take money from Con Edison customers have shown a new level of resourcefulness this year.
The scammers are calling customers and claiming they owe Con Edison a deposit for their smart meter. They then tell the customer to make an immediate payment by Bitcoin or the company will turn off their power.
These are lies. 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. Con Edison does not call customers and demand immediate payment.
“These scammers take tens of thousands of dollars a year from our customers by sounding sincere while they lie,” said Jim Duggan, a manager in Con Edison’s Corporate Security department. “We want our customers to be able to recognize signs that someone is a professional criminal trying to steal from them.”
Con Edison is joining more than 100 electric, gas and water providers from North America in dedicating next week to educating customers on how they can avoid becoming victims. The companies, members of Utilities United Against Scams, have declared Nov. 11 to Nov. 17 to be National Utility Scam Awareness Week and next Wednesday to be National Utility Scam Awareness Day.
The new scam involving false claims about smart meters and Bitcoin usually targets business customers. The scammers call when the business can least afford to lose power – such as just before the lunch or dinner rush for a restaurant.
(Hear a podcast on avoiding scams.)
Other scams have been around for years. Con Edison advises customers who pay their bills by mail not to place their payments in a mailbox until close to pick-up time. That’s because crooks sometimes go into mailboxes, lift the Con Edison payments and alter the checks so that they can cash them.
A common scam is to call a customer’s home or business and say the customer owes money and must pay immediately by pre-paid card or face a shutoff of service.
The callers sometimes point the customer to a store that sells pre-paid cards. The scammers can even make a Con Edison number show up on the customer's caller ID.
Once the customer puts money on a pre-paid 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, by MoneyGram or any similar transfers.
With MoneyGram, scammers may ask a customer to provide money from a bank account, credit card or debit card by going online or to a specified location. The money goes into someone else’s bank account or is available for the receiver to pick up in cash.
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.
Other impostors show up at customers’ homes and businesses claiming to be from Con Edison. These scammers try to get money by saying the customer is delinquent on bills or try to get inside the home by saying they need to do work.
Once inside a home, these impostors look for money or property to steal or, in some cases, commit assaults. 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 or the police.
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 $50 billion in assets. The utility provides electric, gas and steam service to more than three million customers in New York City and Westchester County, New York.
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