Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation joins the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and utility companies across North America in promoting National Consumer Protection Week to educate customers on how they can guard against falling victim to imposter utility scams.
National Consumer Protection Week runs until March 6 and is recognized to help individuals understand their consumer rights and make well-informed decisions. Central Hudson supports this cause by reinforcing efforts to reveal the tactics scammers use and by educating customers on how to protect themselves.
“Scammers continue to target families and small businesses, causing economic distress during an already challenging time,” said Charles A. Freni, President and CEO of Central Hudson. “It is incumbent upon us as leaders in our communities to help educate our customers and raise awareness of these activities to prevent them from becoming victims.”
Central Hudson is a member of Utilities United Against Scams, a coalition led by electric, natural gas, and water companies together with the American Gas Association and Edison Electric Institute, to safeguard customers from fraud by individuals impersonating utility representatives. Through its work and with the help of customer reporting, UUAS has succeeded in taking out of operation more than 10,000 toll-free numbers used by scammers against utility customers.
Scammers commonly threaten to disconnect customers' utility services if they fail to make an immediate payment – typically using a prepaid card or other non-traceable form of payment purchased at a local retail store. Once the payment is made, the money is gone. Central Hudson would never request a payment by this method. Customers are also reminded that Central Hudson has placed a moratorium on service terminations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Customers may report the phone number used by the scammer to Central Hudson as indicated on their caller ID display or provided by the caller. Central Hudson will work with Utilities United Against Scams to have the number de-activated. However, at times scammers may “spoof” Central Hudson’s phone number by making it appear as if the call is coming from the utility company.
"If ever concerned about a call, email or in-person visit, our customers should call Central Hudson at (845) 452-2700 or 1-800-527-2714 and ask for verification," said Freni.
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.
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