Customers with doubts should not divulge information
Central Hudson is alerting customers of a bill payment scam targeting its customers.
Charles A. Freni, senior vice president of customer services for Central Hudson, said: “We are receiving multiple reports of customers being contacted by telephone by individuals claiming to be with or representing Central Hudson, and stating that the customer did not make a deposit for an opt-out program and/or meter change; the caller then directs them to pay their utility bill using cash or an express wire transfer.”
The perpetrators indicate that if payment is not made in this manner, utility services will be shut off. In this particular scam, the caller also provides a name and telephone number for a return call, always a toll-free number.
“Central Hudson would never request a bill payment in this way. Customers are also warned that thieves now access sophisticated equipment that allows them to forge caller identification (or ‘Caller ID’) in order to present false names and telephone numbers. As a result, some customers may even see Central Hudson’s name or telephone number displayed, when, in fact, the call is not originating here,” said Freni. “If there is any uncertainty regarding any phone call, customers should hang up and call Central Hudson at 845-452-2700 for confirmation. We are here to help.”
Other reported scams include calls to homeowners indicating that their account is past due and directing them to pay their utility bill through a pay-back money card; emails from impersonators posing as a utility company, requesting utility bill payment and personal information; and calls by perpetrators claiming to be with a national collection agency working on behalf of Central Hudson, attempting to obtain a payment over the phone by credit card.
“Central Hudson does not use email to obtain payments or personal information, and customers should be wary of any emails attempting to secure this information. Do not click on any links or reply to these emails, and if uncertain, call Central Hudson,” he said.
Both homeowners and business owners should also be aware of thieves posing as utility employees attempting to collect payments for utility bills in person. “The impersonators may request immediate payment in cash, check or by credit card,” said Freni. Central Hudson employees and authorized contractors drive marked vehicles and carry photo identification, and will always display it upon request.
Finally, phone numbers, street and email addresses associated with customer accounts are never shared by Central Hudson without permission. Customers receiving personal visits, calls or emails are warned not to provide or verify their utility account or other personal information such as credit card, Social Security or bank routing numbers. “If there is any doubt, customers may wish to note the caller ID information, license plate or email address and report the incident to their local police department,” said Freni.