POUGHKEEPSIE – Central Hudson Gas & Electric is warning customers about recent increased scam activity involving utility service and bills. “Be aware of attempts by scammers to obtain your account or banking information by offers or threats regarding your electric and natural gas service,” said Charles A. Freni, President and C.E.O. of Central Hudson.
A current scam appears as a call from Central Hudson and begins with a recorded message offering a credit for overpayment. An operator will then attempt to verify the customer’s bank account number to allegedly process the refund. Customers should never share account or banking information, and if in doubt, hang up and call Central Hudson at (845) 452-2700.
“Central Hudson follows all regulations in communicating with customers about their accounts,” Freni said. “Employees and authorized contractors drive marked vehicles and carry photo identification, and will always display it upon request. If there is ever any doubt about the authenticity of a contact, whether in person, on line or by phone, customers should call Central Hudson for confirmation.” He added that customers may also wish to note caller ID information, license plates or email addresses and report the incident to their local police department.
Other signs of a potential scam include:
· Bill Payment or Credit Con: Scammers provide a phony account routing number to pay utility bills, receive a credit, or obtain federal assistance.
· Equipment or Repair Bogus Fee: Scammers call demanding a separate payment to replace or install a utility-related device or meter.
· Smishing Scam: Smishing, short for SMS phishing, attempts to trick mobile phone users into giving scammers personal information via text or SMS messages, which can then be used for identity theft.
· Bogus Bills: Scammers send suspicious emails that appear to be a utility bill, potentially featuring the utility’s logo and color scheme. Do not click on any links or attachments in any email unless the sender is verified.
Customers can protect themselves by:
· Never purchasing a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Central Hudson does not specify how customers should make a bill payment and offers a variety of payment methods including online, by phone, automatic bank draft, U.S. mail or in person.
· Hanging up the phone, deleting the email or shutting the door when threatened with immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, if this was the first and only notification. Central Hudson follows state regulations by issuing advance notifications, and never a single call one hour or less before taking action.
· Calling Central Hudson for verification using the number on their bill, (845) 452-2700, and not the phone number the scammer provides. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.