NEWARK, N.J. -- Small businesses around New Jersey are being targeted by scammers falsely identifying themselves as employees of the Public Service Electric & Gas Co., utility officials said recently.
The scammers are calling businesses and threatening to turn off electrical and gas services if payment is not immediately made with a pre-paid card, said Greg Dunlap, PSE&G’s vice president of Customer Operations.
“This is an old scam with a new twist,” Dunlap said.
Some of the scammers are imitating the utility’s interactive voice response system prompt menu. When customers call them back, they hear something similar to what they would hear on the legitimate customer service line, he said.
When the phony representative answers the line, they ask for the number on the back of the pre-paid card. Once the thieves have the number, they can take the money from the card – “usually within a matter of minutes,” Dunlap warned.
According to Dunlap, complaints about the scam have skyrocketed in recent weeks.
PSE&G customers are being urged to call the number listed on their bill – 1-800-436-7734 – if they have any doubts about any call, especially if it involves any threats to turn off services.
The utility offers a number of payment options, and would never require the customer to use just one type of payment, Dunlap said.
When the utility calls customers, he said, “customer-specific” information is shared with them, like an account name and current balance. If a customer does not get this information, it is unlikely that he or she is talking to a legitimate representative, he said.
Dunlap also noted that customers who are actually scheduled for disconnection for not paying their bills get written notices at least 10 days in advance.