New York State warns of utility scam targeting vulnerable communities
The New York State Division of Consumer Protections says people claiming to be representatives of a utility company are targeting people in emails, phone calls, and even at their homes.
Scammers are asking for Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and requesting money for alleged past-due bills. They are also targeting people who speak Spanish and Chinese as their first languages.
New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado says that while utility scams pop up throughout the year, now scammers are seeking out vulnerable communities with limited English who may not be aware of they could fall victim to such tactics.
Advice for dealing with scammers? NYS Division of Consumer Protection says confirm the caller. Don’t give out sensitive information. And don’t pay them. Utility companies don’t ask for payment through gift cards, bitcoin, or wire transfers, for instance. If someone arrives at your door claiming to be a utility company representative, do not allow them into your home before confirming. Ask to see a valid ID and if they present it, call the utility company to corroborate.
If you’re suspicious, hang up and call the number on the official website of the company to verify if there is a problem with your account.
If you are a victim of a scam, you can contact the NYS Division of Consumer Protection’s Consumer Assistance Hotline at 1-800-697-1220 or online at @NYSConsumer on Facebook or Twitter.