Utility Scam Warns of Power Shut Off

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 @ 04:01 PM gHale

There is a new scam out there where Newark, NJ-based PSE&G customers are getting threats the company will turn off their gas and electric unless they make an immediate payment.

The scam involves payments using Green Dot MoneyPaks and seems to be targeting Hispanic neighborhoods in PSE&G’s service territory.

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As noted on the MoneyPak packaging and on the company’s web site to protect themselves from fraud, consumers should treat the MoneyPak like cash and only use the MoneyPak number with businesses on their approved partner list.

Here is how the scam works: A Spanish-speaking individual pretending to be a PSE&G employee calls customers saying they “work for PSE&G in the disconnect collection department.” They tell customers their account is in arrears and the company will discontinue their utility service unless they make a payment using a prepaid debit card.

The caller tells customers to purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak at any convenience store, use cash to put money onto the card, and then provide the number on the card to the person who called them. The callers then tell customers if they do not immediately call back and provide the MoneyPak information, the utility will turn off their service that day.

Typically, after the customer provides that MoneyPak number, the scammer transfers the funds to a prepaid card, and cashes it in at an ATM.

What to do if you get a call: When PSE&G makes an outbound phone call to customers, the caller ID will identify the call as coming from PSE&G and the company will share customer-specific information with the customer. If customers do not receive the correct pieces of information, they likely are not speaking with a PSE&G representative.

PSE&G is working with law enforcement to investigate the matter and is also reaching out to its contacts at local community service agencies asking them to spread the word to their clients.

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