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Oct. 18, 2018
For Release: Immediately
Be Aware of Utility Bill Payment Scams 

Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation has received an increase in customer reports of attempted scams this week, and urges vigilance in order to avoid becoming victimized.

"Our customers are learning to recognize signs of a potential scam, as evidenced by the increase in reported attempts," said Charles A. Freni, President and C.E.O. of Central Hudson. “However, we encourage all our customers to remain alert for callers who attempt to collect unauthorized payments for utility bills.”

Freni explained that scammers often pose as utility company employees, and 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. The most recent incidents used by scammers have been contacts by telephone.

Signs of a potential scam include:

  • Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within an hour. 
  • Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card – widely available at retail stores – then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment. 
  • Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card's number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card's funds, and the victim's money is gone. 

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. 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 feels that they are in physical danger, they should call 911. 

"Central Hudson employees and authorized contractors drive marked vehicles and carry photo identification, and will always display it upon request," said Freni. "If there is ever any doubt, customers may call Central Hudson for confirmation." He added that customers may also wish to note caller ID information, license plates or email addresses and report the incident to their local police department.

Central Hudson is a member of Utilities United Against Scams, a consortium of more than 100 North American electric, water, and natural gas companies working across the industry with regulators, law enforcement, and other telecommunications partners to educate and raise awareness to stop scams targeting utility customers. UUAS was recently awarded the Toll-Free Industry’s Fraud Fighter Award in recognition of its advocacy and awareness campaign to stop scams that target electric, water, and natural gas company customers.

To view an informative video on how to spot and avoid scams, go to www.CentralHudson.com/ScamCentral.  Follow Central Hudson on social media for timely notifications about local scam activity at Facebook.com/CentralHudson and www.Twitter.com/CentralHudson.

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