Scams continue to cause irreparable harm, including locally. And PSE&G is again taking steps to remind local residents to use extreme caution, especially when it comes to getting “calls” from the utility — especially those that may well be impersonation calls demanding immediate payment.
On Utility Scam Awareness Day, Nov. 15, PSE&G reminded customers to be aware of scammers’ tactics and to know what to do if confronted with a demand for payment and a threat of imminent shutoff: Get the truth from the real PSE&G at (800) 436-7734.
“Scammers try to blindside you with an urgent problem in the hopes that you panic and miss all the clues that they’re not who they appear to be,” Dave Johnson, vice president PSE&G Customer Care & Chief Customer Officer, said. “PSE&G wants customers to remember one simple thing — if someone calls threatening to shut off your power and demands immediate payment, hang up and call the number that’s printed on your bill to verify before acting.”
Callers should do this even when the Caller ID comes from a legitimate PSE&G phone number since scammers are more and more using phone-number spoofers that make it seem like calls are coming in from legit sources. Only thing is, that is all part of the scam.
PSE&G says recent phone scams reported demands for payment for past-due bills or priority meter installations. Often, the scammers will threaten to disconnect electric service if payment is not made immediately. Many scammers ask by telephone or email for payment in pre-paid debit cards or fund transfer app, or to send money to an out-of-state address.
PSE&G offers a variety of payment options — but gift cards are never one of those methods. Period.
Signs you may be being scammed
- A threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer their utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made— usually within an hour.
- A request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card, a gift card or even Bitcoin, and then to call them back to make a phone payment. Scammers may request that the customer use a payment app to make an online payment, or even give instructions for an in-person meeting.
Many times after the customer makes the first payment, the scammer will call back to ask for the payment to be resubmitted due to an error with the amount. The scammer refers to a new amount and claims that the original payment will be refunded. This is almost certainly going to be a scam.
- In person-demands: Scammers may arrive at a home or business, flash a fake ID and/or claim to be a utility collection representative. The impostors may wear “uniforms” or affix false company signs to their vehicles. The scammers generally ask for personal information or offer discounts, which a real PSE&G representative would not do.
Protect yourself against scams
- Be alert to the telltale sign of a scam: someone asking by telephone or email for payment in pre-paid debit cards or a MoneyGram transfer, or to send money to an out-of-state address.
- Never arrange payment or divulge account or personal information, including Social Security numbers or debit or credit card information, over the telephone, unless you are certain you are speaking to a PSE&G representative — even then, be weary.
- Customers should also know what PSE&G will and won’t discuss over the phone. A genuine PSE&G representative will ask to speak to the “Customer of Record.” If that person is available, the representative will explain why they are calling and the representative will provide the account name, address and current balance. If the person on the phone does not provide the correct information, it is likely not a PSE&G representative.
- If the “Customer of Record” is not available, the PSE&G representative will not discuss the account at all and ask that a message be left for the “Customer of Record” to call (800) 436-PSEG (7734).
- If a customer has doubts about the legitimacy of a call or an email — especially one in which payment is requested — hang up and call the company directly at (800) 436-PSEG (7734).
PSE&G launches additional security measures
In November, PSE&G is introducing a multi-factor authentication (MFA) process when you log in to your PSE&G My Account. MFA is an additional security measure that many banks, airlines and other businesses use to prevent unauthorized access to your account(s). Please review your My Profile to ensure your email address is up to date. Learn more about MFA.
Here is a preview of the process
- The first time you log into your online account, you will be prompted to reset your current password to meet new password requirements.
- Then, you’ll receive an email (to the email address currently on file) providing a one-time authentication code for validation. (Note: If you want to change your email address on file, you may do so in the My Profile section of My Account.)
- Lastly, you’ll be required to enter a phone number where you will receive an authentication code.
Please contact PSE&G internet support group in English or Spanish at (888) 234-9209 if you have trouble accessing your account.
Learn more online at pseg.com/ScamAlert.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.