PSE&G sent out an alert on Friday about what the utility said is a recent increase in scammers contacting customers and threatening to shut off power unless payment is sent immediately over an app that the scammers provide.
PSE&G is not suspending residential service for non-payment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The utility said that, while the scammers are still trying to get people to pay them with prepaid debit cards, some are now demanding payment through digital payment platforms or apps. PSE&G does not take payments through prepaid debit cards or third-party mobile payment applications. “We offer a variety of payment options,” the utility said, “and would never require one specific type of payment.”
According to PSE&G, the signs of trouble are callers aggressively telling customers that their utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made immediately– usually within an hour. They tell the customer to purchase a prepaid card, a gift card or even Bitcoin, and then call back to make a phone payment, sometimes over a mobile app. Scammers may also arrive at a home or business, flash a fake ID and claim to be a utility collection representative. “Scammers generally ask for personal information, which real utility representatives do not do, or offer bogus discounts,” PSE&G says.
“If a PSE&G representative calls you, they will ask to speak to the ‘Customer of Record’,” the utility says. “If that person is available, the representative will explain why they are calling and provide the customer’s account name, address and current balance. If the caller can’t provide that information, they are not likely a PSE&G representative.”
If you have doubts about the legitimacy of a call or an email — especially one in which payment is requested — call PSE&G directly at 1-800-436-PSEG (7734).
My elderly parents also received this one. The parents received a phone call from their “grand-daughter” asking for help with bail. The payment was to be made with certain Walgreens gift cards. She was told to inform them when she was going to trial so that they could come to watch. It’s fortunate that I had told them about this scam way before this happened.