In this scam, you get a call from someone claiming they’re from the power company. They tell you they haven’t received your bill for a few months, and a lineman is on his way to shut off your power.
To keep your power on, they ask you to go to Rite-Aid to either purchase a money order or Green Dot Cards to pay off your bill. So far, it seems as if the scammers have only targeted New England. However, it's something to keep in mind even if you don't live in the North East.
The idea of having your power shut off is particularly frightening and can cause you to not think clearly about the situation. National Grid posted a press release that had these 8 tips to avoid a payment scam. -
“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.” Click here to view the National Grid Press Release
A Quick Word About Green Dot Card Scams
It’s a good practice never to pay for things via Green Dot or through money orders. In particular, scammers tend to prefer the cards over money orders because they’re more convenient and just as untraceable. Green Dot card scams are relatively common and can come in the form of -
- Advance Payment Scam - Crooks tell you to pay in advance for a Government, Educational or other grant to handle fees.
- Debt Collector Scam - Fake debt collector tells you that you owe money on an old payday loan. Will threaten to call the police, send sheriff to your workplace, and put you in jail for 3 years for fraud.
- Back Tax (IRS) Scam - Scammer claims to be IRS agent and tells you that you owe back taxes.
- Craigslist Scam - Poster lists items on Craigslist, and demands pre-payment via Green Dot cards.
Please Keep in Mind -
- Organizations and government agencies don’t accept payment from prepaid cards or money orders. They have their own, legitimate payment processors.
- MoneyPak, the company that owns Green Dot cards, advises you only give MoneyPak number to people you know and trust.
The Best Way to Avoid the Power Co. Scam
By far, the best and easiest way to not fall victim to this scam is to check your online account. If you sign in to your National Grid account and see nothing wrong, then you know it’s a scam.