New York – The criminals who want to rip off Con Edision customers do not discriminate.
(Note: Con Edison employees always carry identification. Customers should not hesitate to ask to see it.)
They prey on residential customers and business customers. They go after customers in New York City and Westchester County. The elderly need to be aware, but so do customers of other ages, including millennials. Scammers target English-speaking people and non-English speakers.
Since scams are a presistent problem for utility customers everywhere, Con Edison and more than 100 electric, gas and water providers have formed Utilities United Against Scams, which give customers information they need to protect themselves.
“Scammers just never stop,” said Christine Osuji, general manager in Customer Operations for Con Edison. “But by being able to recognize a few warning signs, our customers can avoid becoming victims. We want to make sure they have that information.”
(To hear a podcast on avoiding scams, go to: https://soundcloud.com/con-edison/scammers-podcast-1)
Victims have sad stories. The owner of a small business in Westchester County loaded $1,000 onto a Green Dot prep-paid card after a scammer called her, claimed to be from Con Edison and said a crew would shut off service unless the owner paid the bill immediately.
This is a common scam. The swindlers sometimes tell the customer about a store near the customer’s home or business that sells pre-paid cards. The scammers even make a Con Edison phone number show up on the customer’s caller ID.
Once the customer puts money on pre-paid card and provides the scammer with the card number, the scammer steals the money. These callers are not from Con Edison and Con Edison does not accept payments by pre-paid debit cards, by MoneyGram or similar transfers. With MoneyGram, scammers may ask a customer to provide money from a bank account, credit card or debit card bu going online or to a specified location. The money goes into someone else’s bank account or is availablefor the receiver to pick up in cash.
Never arrange payment or divulge account or personal information, including debit or credit card information, over the telephone, unless you are certain you are speaking to Con Edison. If you are unsure whether the caller is from Con Edison, call 1-800-75-CONED to check.
Just as menacing are imposters who show up at customers’ home and businesses claiming to be from Con Edison. The scammers either try to get the customer to hand over money with a phony story or to get inside the house by saying they need to do work.
A restaurateur in northwest Queens got taken by two women who went to his restaurant dressed in Con Edison uniforms. They told the customer the company had a program that Latino customers didn’t know existed and offered to see that his bill was paid. The customer gave the women a copy of his bill and $1,800.
If someone comes to you home or business claiming to be from Con Edison, ask for identification. If you are still unsure, call 1-800-75-CONED or the police.
For more information on avoiding scams, go to: https://www.coned.com/en/safety/safety/beware-of-scammers. Con Edison’s website, http://www.coned.com/customercentral/managemybill.asp, offers approved optiopns for bill payment.