PEARL RIVER – Orange and Rockland Utilities is cautioning customers to beware of an increase of scam calls lately.
The scammer is making an O&R phone number show up on the customer’s caller ID screen and instructing the customer to pay their bill or their service will be shut off within the hour.
The utility warms, don’t fall for it:
O&R does not call customers and demand immediate payment. To disconnect service, O&R goes through a multi-step process that’s regulated by the state Public Service Commission. That includes sending written communications over a period of time.
O&R does not accept payment by prepaid debit cards, by MoneyGram or any similar transfers.
Never arrange payment or divulge account or personal information, including debit or credit card information, over the phone.
If someone comes to your home or business claiming to be from O&R, ask for identification. If you are still unsure, call 1-877-434-4100 or the police.
Here are some other methods scammers use:
The scammer calls and says the customer’s bill is delinquent and instructs the customer to buy a prepaid card and load money onto it to pay the bill. Once the customer puts money on the prepaid card and provides the scammer with the card number, the scammer steals the money. The customer does not get a gift card and is still responsible for the bill.
The scammer calls a business or residential customer and says a glitch in O&R’s computer systems prevented the customer’s payments for the last several months from being recorded. These scammers then ask the customer to buy a prepaid card.
Someone calls and says the customer owes O&R a deposit for a smart meter. The caller tells the customer to make an immediate payment by Bitcoin. This scam usually targets businesses. O&R does not require deposits for the smart meters it is installing at homes and businesses across its service area. The company does not accept payment by Bitcoin.
Thieves have been known to get into mailboxes to pull out envelopes and open those that may contain payments. O&R advises customers who pay their bills by mail not to place their payments in a mailbox until close to pick-up time.