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March 4, 2019
For Release: Immediately
Central Hudson Supports National Consumer Protection Week

Utility urges its customers to learn the signs of utility bill payment scams

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.

According to the FTC, National Consumer Protection Week, held this year from March 3-9, is recognized to help individuals understand their consumer rights and make well-informed decisions.

Central Hudson supports National Consumer Protection Week by reinforcing efforts to reveal the tactics scammers use and by educating customers on how to protect themselves. "We want to help our customers recognize signs of a potential scam and to avoid becoming victimized," said Charles A. Freni, President and C.E.O. of Central Hudson.

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.  In 2018, UUAS and its member companies helped to shut down more than 2,000 toll-free numbers used by scammers to target utility customers, and last fall was awarded the Toll-Free Industry's Fraud Fighter Award in recognition of its advocacy and awareness campaigns to stop scams.

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.

"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 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 anyone attempting to secure this information. Do not click on any links nor reply to these emails," he said.

For more information and tips on avoiding scams, visit the FTC website at www.Consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts, or Central Hudson's website at www.CentralHudson.com/ScamCentral.

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