Orange and Rockland Utilities is warning residents to be wary of telephone callers or people claiming to collect delinquent utility bills.
It could be a scam. People receiving such calls should not hesitate to hang up and call the utility’s customer service number – 1-877-434-4100- to check on the solicitor.
Here is the news release from O&R:
PEARL RIVER, NY January 14, 2014 — O&R today warned the public about a phony-bill payment scheme in which imposters pose as utility company representatives and call customers, demanding immediate payment for what they fraudulently claim are delinquent electric and gas bills.
Unsuspecting utility customers across the nation, most recently at in O&R’s Rockland service territory, have been bilked by these bogus claims which insist on payment the day of the contact.
Here is how the scam works:
• A Spanish or English-speaking individual posing as a utility company employee calls customers saying their service would be disconnected if they do not make an immediate payment using a prepaid debit card. In some cases, the call is pre-recorded.
• Customers are told to purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak at a pharmacy or convenience store, use cash to put money onto the card, and then provide the number on the card to the person who called them.
• Customers are advised that if they do not immediately call back and provide the MoneyPak information, their service will be turned off that day.
• Typically, after the customer provides the MoneyPak number, the scammer steals the customer’s money by transferring the funds from the MoneyPak to a prepaid card and then cashing it in at an ATM.
O&R urges anyone who is contacted in this fashion to break off contact with the crooks and call O&R Customer Service at 1-877-434-4100.
If you are contacted by someone who says they represent O&R and you wish to verify their identity, either ask for their photo ID card, if they are at the door, or call O&R at 1-877-434-4100 to verify their identity and the nature of their business with you. O&R employees are trained to cooperate with this request and happy to comply with an identity verification request.
Remember, when in doubt, hang up the phone or break off contact, and call O&R at 1-877-434-4100 to verify that the person you are dealing with is an O&R employee conducting legitimate business.