Beware of summer’s end push in utility bill payment fraud


PEARL RIVER – The busy end-of-summer season is now in full-swing and crooks are counting on an unsuspecting public letting down its guard – distracted with summer vacations ending, adults returning to work, students returning to school.

As a result, Orange and Rockland Utilities’ customers are being hounded by a new round of persistent predatory phone calls from phony bill collectors trying to steal their money.

The scheme goes this way: individuals posing as O&R employees call unsuspecting customers and threaten them with the immediate shut off of their electric service if they don’t pay phony O&R bills with Green Dot or other prepaid debit cards.

The utility said there are two big reasons not to believe any crook who makes a shutoff threat:

  • NO DEBIT CARDS – O&R does not accept bill payment for electric and gas utility bills by Green Dot or any other prepaid debit cards.
  • NO IMMEDIATE SHUTOFF – Disconnecting O&R electric or gas service for non-payment of bills involves a multi-step process – including written communications from O&R to the customer over a period of several days, or even weeks — not hours. That process is regulated by the New York State Public Service Commission and New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

So, if someone calls you, says they are an O&R employee and threatens to shut off your electric or gas service that day if not immediately paid through a prepaid debit card, there is only one thing to do – hang up the phone. A crook is trying to rob you.

And, these brazen predators won’t stop when you hang up. After you hang up on them, they may text you, repeat the threat and bring further pressure on you to pay. Ignore them. They are trying to steal your money.

If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from O&R or Rockland Electric stating that a payment is required within hours and threatening to immediately shut off your service, O&R urges you to:

  • Hang Up – Disengage so you’re not further subjected to the fraudulent high-pressure “sales pitch.”
  • Text Trouble – After you hang up on them, the more aggressive predatory callers will try to repeat their shutoff threat by texting you. Ignore the threat.
  • Don’t Hit “REDIAL” – The caller ID screen on your phone for the pony bill collector’s call may read “Orange and Rockland Utilities”, but that’s a hi-tech bogus copy of the utility company’s number. That’s not O&R. Do not redial, and don’t call the number that the caller gives you to call them back. That will reconnect you to the crook.
  • Fast Track – If you are unsure about whether you have an overdue balance on your O&R bill, the fastest way to find out is to log onto your account through to review your latest account information. You also can call O&R’s automated phone system at 1-877-434-4100. Have your Orange and Rockland account number ready and follow the automated phone prompts to check your balance.



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