PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — National Grid and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s office are warning utility customers of callers trying to steal money – by claiming to be from the utility’s billing department.
The company says they have received reports from customers saying a caller was demanding payment for a past due bill. If it wasn’t paid immediately, the caller threatens to shut off service immediately.
The swindlers try to tell the customer to pay up by buying a prepaid debit card and giving them the card number over the phone.
“They have copied some of our scripting in how we talk to our customers. And they’ve picked up some technology where the phone identifies them as calling from National Grid,” said David Graves of National Grid.
Graves said while the company does usually make calls to alert customers to outstanding bills, they will never ask for prepaid debit cards or wire transactions.
“First of all, we do not threaten immediate shutoff. Second of all, we do not accept prepaid debit cards, we do not accept wire transfers,” he said.
If you get one of these calls, authorities advise you to hang up and call National Grid immediately. DO NOT send money without calling the company first.
To check with the company about your bill, call National Grid at (800) 322-3223.
You can also check their website at http://www.nationalgridus.com.
Most reputable companies will not use prepaid debit cards for payment; crooks use these because they are harder to trace.
Annie Shalvey contributed to this report.