Businesses beware of sophisticated phone scam claiming to be National Grid

Posted at 4:33 PM, Oct 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-28 10:59:10-04

“Watch out for any kind of scam,” Frank Budwey said, while warning fellow business owners after he was nearly scammed out of $1500.

Budwey said he got a call on Wednesday from an 800 number saying he owed National Grid $8,000. Budwey explained what the caller said: “All we have to do is flip a switch and your power's off automatically and they're ready to do it unless we receive payment in hand of at least $1500,”

According to Budwey, the call seemed legitimate. Budwey said due to an oversight, he hadn't received a National Grid bill in two months.  However, the caller's method of payment seemed fishy to the supermarket owner. He was directed to go to a Rite Aid and pick up a “Money Pak” prepaid credit card. He was also promised a 30% discount on next month’s bill if he paid the bill immediately.

Budwey said he immediately called National Grid for help.

“The concern with this one is they clearly seem to be targeting businesses presumably because if they can get someone to bite they'll get a little more money out of it,” explained National Grid spokesman, Steve Brady.

Brady said it does call customers if they're behind on payments. But, the company representative should know your account information. “If you get the call, ask the caller what is my account number? And if they can't produce it right away, it's not National Grid.”

The number to National Grid is 1-800-Niagara.

Budwey realized that before handing over any money. He hopes other business owners do the same. “Hopefully, the word gets out.”

The Better Business Bureau said you can sign up on the National “Do Not Call” Registry. But, chances are a scammer will call anyway. In addition to signing up on the list, it recommends not providing your phone number on paperwork whenever possible.

For other tips, click here.

To report a scam to the FBI, click here.