Con Edison to Customers: Know the Tricks Scammers Use and You Can Avoid Being a Victim
Con Edison and Other Companies Banding Together to Educate and Protect Consumers from Fraud
Con Edison urges customers to learn the signs that someone is trying to rip them off by posing as a company employee and demanding money.
Scammers are inventive, resourceful and persistent. They contact customers by email, phone and by showing up at homes and businesses. The best defense for customers is to be aware of the methods scammers use.
Con Edison is among more than 150 U.S. and Canadian energy and water companies that are using International Fraud Awareness Week as an opportunity to educate consumers.
The companies are members of Utilities United Against Scams, which has declared today to be Utility Scam Awareness Day.
“As scammers become more imaginative, we want our customers to know they can empower themselves,” said Michele O’Connell, Con Edison’s senior vice president, Customer Operations. “A customer who receives a demand for immediate payment or feels pressured to give up personal information can stop the scammer by remaining composed and refusing to play along. But it all starts with recognizing scammers’ deceptive tactics.”
“Utility impostor scammers continue to grow more sophisticated in their tactics,” said Monica Martinez, executive director of Utilities United Against Scams. “Increasingly, we are seeing scammers use digital methods that target both younger and older generations. We encourage customers to stop and verify any unusual utility company requests before making a payment, regardless of whether the customer is contacted via phone, internet, or in person.”
Here are signs that the person contacting a Con Edison customer is a scammer:
- A common tactic is to say a customer must make an immediate payment to avoid a service turnoff. Con Edison does not make these calls.
- Scammers call customers and instruct them to buy a pre-paid card. 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.
- Scammers contact customers and demand payment via apps like Cash App, Venmo and Zelle. Con Edison does not support these platforms for payment. The company also does not accept payment via PayPal or bitcoin.
- People trying to pull a scam often try to sell a customer on urgency. They’ll say company personnel are on their way to shut off service. Scammers who believe they are getting what they want from a customer sometimes act extremely polite and helpful as they tell the customer what to do.
- Many scammers try to get customers to give up their Con Edison account number, Social Security number or other personal information. The customer should hang up and call 1-800-75-CONED or the local police department.
- A person who shows up at a home or business not wearing a Con Edison ID is not a company employee. A Con Edison employee will politely show the ID to the customer when asked. If you are still not sure the person works for the company, call 1-800-75-CONED to get confirmation.
Scammers who call customers by phone can even make a Con Edison phone number appear on a customer’s caller ID display.
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 of customers providing multiple payments totaling thousands of dollars to a scammer.
Con Edison's website offers approved options for bill payment.
Some utilities have reported an increase in utility impostor scams through digital methods, including search engine-related scams. Digital scam tactics include:
- Sponsored ads on search engines that lead to an identical - but fake - utility bill payment page.
- QR codes that scammers falsely claim link to a utility payment page.
- Texts from a scammer claiming to be a utility representative, with a link to an impostor payment page.
Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. [NYSE: ED], one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately $16 billion in annual revenues and $64 billion in assets. The utility delivers electricity, natural gas and steam, and serves 3.6 million customers in New York City and Westchester County. For financial, operations and customer service information, visit conEd.com. For energy efficiency information, visit coned.com/energyefficiency. Also, visit us on Twitter and Facebook.