It's back! National Grid is spreading the word about billing and payment scams surfacing once again in western New York.
Customers who have been contacted say the callers claim to be from National Grid, telling them they have a past due balance on their utility bill. The caller also claims service will be shut off immediately unless the customer buys a prepaid debit card and passes along the card's information. National Grid officials say this should be a huge, red flag.
From National Grid: "National Grid does contact customers with past due balances by phone to offer payment options, but never demands direct payment through the use of a prepaid debit card and never accepts payment through these cards."
If you think you've fallen victim to this scam, contact National Grid and your local police department right away.
National Grid urges customers to know the red flags and offers the following tips:
• Customers should always contact National Grid using the toll-free telephone numbers listed on the billing statement. If you are provided a phone number that does not match the numbers on the billing statement, it is likely the call is a scam.
• Be vigilant. If you believe you are current on your National Grid account, it is highly likely a call seeking payment is a scam.
• Protect yourself. Ask the caller to provide the last five digits of your National Grid account number. If the caller doesn’t know your account number and fishes for help, take charge and hang up immediately.
• Do not take the bait. Scammers will not have access to your account information, and you should never offer that information if asked. National Grid representatives will know your account number.
• National Grid may ask for a payment over the phone, but will leave the method of payment to the customer.
• Do not fall for scare tactics and threats. National Grid will not contact customers demanding immediate payment by wire transfer, Green Dot Money-Pak or any other prepaid card service.
• Do not cave to pressure. Never -- under any circumstances -- offer personal or financial information to someone who you cannot identify.
• Every National Grid employee carries a photo ID card, and any contractor doing work for the company is also required to carry ID. If someone requesting entry into your home or place of business does not show an ID card, don’t let that person in and please call National Grid or your local law enforcement.