UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – National Grid is reporting that there has been an increase in utility bills and payment scams in New York and is warning customers not to be fooled.

Although scams involving the energy company are not new, what the scammers have begun doing is using an additional verification step to make customers think they are speaking with National Grid employees, when they are not. Callers have been provided names, office locations, employee I.D. numbers, and caller ID & return numbers that have National Grid’s name and correct phone number.

Once on the phone, customers are promised savings on their bills, being threatened to make a payment or face termination, are asked for Social Security numbers and National Grid account numbers, being forced to purchase a prepaid debit card (such as a GreenDot card), and/or being forced to provide the caller with the card’s account number. Businesses have also been contacted with similar threats but are instead asked to make Western Union money transfers.

National Grid says that experiences may vary, but the objective is to trick customers to think they are speaking with a National Grid employee, and then scare them into making a hasty financial decision and revealing their personal information.

National Grid would like to tell all their customers nationwide that while they do contact their customers regarding billing and payment options, they will NEVER demand or accept payment using prepaid debit cards and will also NEVER demand payment with the threat of immediate disconnection.

National Grid reminds customers to know the red flags and offers the following tips: 

  • Be vigilant. If you believe you are current on your National Grid account, it is highly likely a call seeking payment is a scam.
  • If you are provided a phone number that does not match the numbers on the billing statements, it is likely that the call is a scam.
  • Protect yourself. Verify you are speaking with a National Grid representative. Ask the caller to provide the last five digits of your National Grid account number. If the caller does not know your account number and phishes for help, take charge, and hang up immediately. National Grid representatives will know your account number.
  • Do not take the bait. Scammers will not have access to your account information, social security number, or other personal details and you should never offer that information if asked. National Grid representatives will know your account number.
  • Scammers also may contact you by email and attempt to lure customers into clicking on a link, visiting a malicious website, revealing account information, or calling a phone number.
  • While National Grid may ask for a payment to be made over the phone, the payment method will be left to the customer’s discretion.
  • Do not fall for scare tactics and threats. National Grid will not contact customers demanding immediate payment by wire transfer, Green Dot Money-Pak, or any other prepaid card service.
  • Do not cave to pressure. Never — under any circumstances — offer personal or financial information to someone who you cannot identify.
  • Every National Grid employee carries a photo ID badge, and contractors working for the company are also required to carry ID. If someone requesting entry into your home or business does not show identification as a National Grid employee or contractor, do not let that person in, and call National Grid or local law enforcement.

To learn more about protecting you and your loved ones from scams, please visit ngrid.com/scam