By Senator Patty Ritchie
As temperatures drop, utility bills often rise. For many, every penny is critical in ensuring there is gas in the car, food on the table and heat in the home.
Unfortunately, during this difficult time for many, there are those who wish to take advantage of others.
While the idea of fraud is nothing new, the lengths scammers are going to these days are something we have not seen before. National Grid reports there are a growing number of instances where people, either in person or over the phone, will pretend to be utility company employees.
These individuals will offer to “help” customers to reduce their bills, directing them to visit malicious internet links, or even tell people they have a past-due balance that needs to be paid off.
The company recently released a number of tips and answers to frequently asked questions on a website it created (https://www.nationalgridus.com/Our-Company/Scam-Alert) to alert customers of possible fraudulent activities and how people can be prepared to notice them.
Here are a few of the things the company asks that you remember to keep your yourself, your money and your identity safe:
Your utility company will not ask for payments by wire transfer or pre-paid card service.
Your utility company knows your account number, so never offer that information; in fact, you can ask the caller to tell you the last five digits for verification.
National Grid employees are required to carry a photo ID card and those contracted to work for the company are also required to do the same.
There are many more tips to help people recognize scams, which can be found by visiting my website at www.ritchie.nysenate.gov.
If you believe you are or have been a target of a utility scam, you are asked to call both your utility company and your local Attorney General’s office immediately at the following numbers:
Watertown Regional Office (for constituents in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties): (315) 523-6080
Syracuse Regional Office (for constituents in Oswego County): (315) 448-4848