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November 2, 2016

For Release: Immediately

Central Hudson Warns of Payment Scams

(Poughkeepsie, NY) Central Hudson is alerting customers of bill payment scams targeting its customers. “This is the latest of many scams taking place across New York and other parts of the country, and we urge our customers to be vigilant in protecting themselves and their account information,” said Charles A. Freni, Senior Vice President of Customer Services and Transmission & Distribution Operations for Central Hudson.

“We’re receiving reports of customers being contacted by telephone by individuals claiming to represent Central Hudson, stating that if the customer does not make an immediate payment, services will be disconnected,” said Freni. He explained that the caller then directs them to pay 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, (845) 452-2700, 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.

 “Central Hudson would never request a bill payment in this way,” said Freni. Customers are advised that thieves may alter their Caller ID in order to present false names and telephone numbers. “Although some customers may see Central Hudson’s name or telephone number displayed, these calls are not originating here,” said Freni. “If there is any uncertainty, customers should hang up and call Central Hudson at (845) 452-2700 for confirmation, and disregard telephone numbers provided for return calls.”

Other reported scams include emails from impersonators posing as a utility company, requesting utility bill payment and personal information; and 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.

“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 or reply to these emails, and if uncertain, call Central Hudson,” he said.

Both homeowners and business owners should also be aware of thieves posing as utility employees attempting to collect payments for utility bills in person. “The impersonators may request immediate payment in cash, check or by credit card,” said Freni. Central Hudson employees and authorized contractors drive marked vehicles and carry photo identification, and will always display it upon request.

Finally, phone numbers, street and email addresses associated with customer accounts are never shared by Central Hudson without permission. Customers receiving personal visits, calls or emails are warned not to provide or verify their utility account or other personal information such as credit card, social security or bank routing numbers. “If there is any doubt, customers may wish to note the caller ID information, license plate or email address and report the incident to their local police department,” said Freni.