Orange & Rockland Utilities is warning Hudson Valley customers to be on alert as they stand in solidarity with utility companies in support of Utilities United Against Scams.
For the second straight year, Orange & Rockland participated in Utility Scam Awareness Day on Wednesday, to “help expose the tactics scammers use and educate residents and small business owners on how to protect themselves.”
According to Orange & Rockland, electric, water and natural gas customers throughout the country are targeted by utility scams each day. In the spirit of Utility Scam Awareness Day, they released a series of tips to help avoid being defrauded. They said that scam callers posing as company representatives are an "ongoing, frequent and dangerous" problem for Orange & Rockland customers. They said they receive complaints weekly from residents adn business owners who are threatened with a service shut down.
"Scam callers fraudulently claiming to be from Orange & Rockland often tell a customer that service is going to be shut off due to unpaid bills unless the customer purchases a pre-paid card or arranges for a transfer via MoneyGram to pay a bill," officials from the company stated. "These callers are not from Orange & Rockland and Orange & Rockland does not accept payments of electric or gas bills by pre-paid debit cards, or by MoneyGram or similar transfers."
Orange & Rockland noted that scammers sometimes have customers go to a local store near their home to purchase pre-paid cards, and then supply the scammer with the number on the card. Once the scammer has that number they can steal the money.
"Be alert if anyone asks you by telephone to arrange for pre-paid debit cards or a MoneyGram transfer as payment for your bill, or to send money to an out-of-state address," officials added. "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 an Orange & Rockland representative."
Orange & Rockland said that other scammers have come to customers' doors claiming to be an employee to perform unscheduled work. In an effort to avoid becoming a victim, residents should ask to see an Orange & Rockland identification card and for the service order number for the appointment.
"When Orange & Rockland makes a service appointment to visit a customer’s home, Orange & Rockland will provide the customer with a unique service order number. When the utility worker arrives at a customer’s home, the customer should ask the utility worker for his or her I.D. card and the service order number. The customer should confirm that the service order number matches the one provided, when the appointment was made, before admitting that worker into the home. If the utility worker fails to provide the number for the appointment, the customer is to break off contact, lock the door and call the police. Customers can also call a dedicated number, (845) 577-3526, to verify an employee’s identity."
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