WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Communities throughout the region are being targeted by scammers pretending to be from Consolidated Edison, police and the utility company said.
Con Edison said its customers are being threatened with having their electrical/gas services cut off if they don’t pay their bills using a pre-paid card or by transferring the dough via MoneyGram.
The utility said it doesn’t accept payments with these methods.
There has been a spike in reports from both residential and business customers who have been contacted by the scammers, who, Con Ed said, appear to be calling “randomly,” and not just those who might owe money.
The felonious callers sometimes give their intended victims the addresses of nearby stores that sell pre-paid cards, police said. The customer is then told to pay cash to put money on the card and then to provide the scammer with the card number. Once they do that, the thieves access the card to steal money.
Suspects have even discovered a way of putting a legitimate Con Ed phone number from some customers' caller IDs.
If victimized utility customers choose the MoneyGram option instead, he or she is asked to provide money from a bank account, credit card or debit card by going online or to a specified location. Their cash then winds up in someone else’s bank account, or is picked up as cash by the thieves never to be seen again, according to Con Edison and local police.
- Be alert if asked to arrange for a bill payment by pre-paid debit card or MoneyGram, or to send money to an out-of-state address.
- Never divulge account, credit card or personal information over the phone unless you are certain you are speaking with a legitimate Con Edison representative.
- If you feel you might be targeted, or have been, contact local police immediately. Con Edison can be reached by calling 1-800-75CONED (1-800-752-6633).
The utility’s website offers several different ways to pay utility bills safely and conveniently.