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November 10, 2016

For Release: Immediately

Central Hudson Joins “Utilities United Against Scams"

 

Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. joins the American Gas Association, the Edison Electric Institute and utilities across North America in alerting customers of bill payment scams perpetuated by thieves attempting to steal from residents and businesses.

Utilities United Against Scams is a public awareness campaign led by electric, natural gas, and water companies which have joined together to safeguard customers from fraud by individuals impersonating utility company representatives. The third Wednesday in November has been designated as Utilities United Against Scams Day, and participating companies are promoting awareness with a coordinated public education effort.

Utilities recognize that reliable and affordable electricity, natural gas, and water service are vitally important to the health, safety, and wellbeing of all North Americans. Individuals, called scammers, are threatening that commitment in order to obtain money or personal goods from customers.

“Central Hudson is promoting this important awareness campaign to help our customers recognize signs of a potential scam and to avoid becoming victimized by thieves,” said Charles A. Freni, Senior Vice President of Customer Services and Transmission & Distribution Operations. “If a call, email or in-person visit seems suspicious, our customers should call Central Hudson at (845) 452-2700 or 1-800-527-2714 and ask for verification.”

Central Hudson recently reported impersonators targeting customers by telephone stating that if an immediate payment is not made, services will be disconnected. The caller then directs a payment toward their utility bill using a prepaid card purchased at a pharmacy or convenience store. In this particular scam, the caller identification (or ‘Caller ID’) number appearing on the victim’s telephone mimics that of Central Hudson, and the caller also provides a telephone number for a return call, which when reached utilizes a re-recording of Central Hudson’s upfront message.

Also recently reported is a scam by perpetrators purchasing items on bidding sites and paying sellers with an endorsed, fraudulent third-party check made out to them allegedly by Central Hudson. In some instances, the amount of the check is greater than that of the selling price of the item, and the perpetrator requests the seller refund the difference in cash. When the seller then attempts to deposit or cash the check, they discover it is fraudulent.

Other reported scams include emails from impersonators posing as a utility company, requesting a bill payment and personal information; calls by perpetrators claiming to be with a national collection agency working on behalf of Central Hudson, attempting to obtain a payment over the phone by credit card; and thieves posing as utility employees attempting to collect payments for utility bills in person.

“Central Hudson employees and authorized contractors drive marked vehicles and carry photo identification, and will always display it upon request,” said Freni. “Also, Central Hudson does not use email to obtain payments or personal information, and customers should be wary of any emails attempting to secure this information. Do not click on any links nor reply to these emails,” he said.

“If there is ever any doubt, customers may call Central Hudson for confirmation,” said Freni. 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.

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