NEWARK, N.J., April 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- PSE&G is urging its customers to be alert to a scam that is increasingly targeting small businesses. In the scam, which has been reported across the country, individuals misrepresenting themselves as PSE&G employees threaten to turn off electric and gas service if payment is not made to them that day.
The scam involves payments using Green Dot MoneyPaks. As noted on the MoneyPak packaging and on the company's Web site (www.moneypak.com), to protect themselves from fraud, consumers should treat the MoneyPak like cash and only use the MoneyPak number with businesses on their approved partner list.
PSE&G has alerted its customers to similar scams in the past. In recent weeks, however, a new tactic has emerged that is targeting small businesses. Here is how the scam works:
An individual pretending to be a PSE&G employee calls a small business customer to schedule a meter replacement, but says the work cannot be completed until the customer's balance is paid off. In some cases, customers are told their meter is broken and must be replaced for a hefty fee.
Customers are told to purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak at a pharmacy or convenience store, use cash to put money onto the card, and then provide the number on the card to the person who called them.
Customers are advised that if they do not immediately call back and provide the MoneyPak information, the meter replacement will not be scheduled and their service will be turned off that day.
When customers provide the MoneyPak number, they are told that someone will be out to change their meter later that day. Meanwhile, the scammer transfers the funds to a prepaid card and cashes it in at an ATM.
In many cases, customers who fall victim to the scam do not realize they have been defrauded until no one turns up to replace the meter.
What to do if you get a call
When PSE&G makes an outbound phone call to customers, customer-specific information is shared with the customer. That information includes the account name, address, number and current balance. If customers do not receive this correct information, they likely are not speaking with a PSE&G representative. If customers feel uncomfortable and they know they have an outstanding balance that needs to be resolved, they should hang up and call PSE&G directly at 1-800-436-7734 or visit a local PSE&G Customer Service Center. Service Centers are open Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM with locations listed on customer bills and online at: http://www.pseg.com/centers
PSE&G would never require a customer to pay using a MoneyPak as the payment method. Any customer who has doubts about the legitimacy of any call from PSE&G, especially one in which payment is requested, should call the utility directly.
PSE&G is working with law enforcement to investigate the matter and is also reaching out to its contacts at local community service agencies asking them to spread the word to their clients. Small business customers who have provided their email addresses were emailed to alert them of the scam.
Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) is New Jersey's oldest and largest regulated gas and electric delivery utility, serving nearly three-quarters of the state's population. PSE&G is the winner of the ReliabilityOne Award for superior electric system reliability. PSE&G is a subsidiary of Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG) (NYSE:PEG), a diversified energy company (www.pseg.com).
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SOURCE Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G)