PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT – O&R is joining with energy companies across the nation to warn customers about the danger posed by people who call their homes or businesses demanding an instant payment of their utility bills.
Scam callers posing as O&R representatives are an ongoing, frequent and dangerous problem for the company’s customers. The company receives complaints each week about calls to customers’ homes and businesses from scammers demanding immediate payment and threatening a service shutoff.
O&R and more than two dozen other energy companies have formed a partnership seeking to warn customers not to fall for the scams.
The companies are calling Nov. 16 “Utilities United Against Scams Day.” The day will be part of a week-long campaign to provide customers with information exposing the tricks scammers use to steal money and giving customers tips on protecting themselves.
Scam callers claiming to be from O&R often tell a customer that service is going to be shut off due to unpaid bills unless the customer purchases a pre-paid card or arranges for a transfer via MoneyGram to pay a bill.
These callers are not from O&R and O&R does not accept payments of electric or gas bills by pre-paid debit cards, or by MoneyGram or similar transfers.
The scammers sometimes even tell the customer about a store near the customer’s home that sells pre-paid cards. The scammer instructs the customer to pay cash to put money on the card and to then provide the number on the card to the person who called.
Once the customer provides the scammer with the card number, the scammer steals the money.
With MoneyGram, scammers may ask a customer to provide money from a bank account, credit card or debit card by going online or to a specified location. The money goes into someone else’s bank account or is available for the receiver to pick up in cash.
Be alert if anyone asks you by telephone to arrange for pre-paid debit cards or a MoneyGram transfer as payment for your bill, or to send money to an out-of-state address. Never arrange payment or divulge account or personal information, including debit or credit card information, over the telephone, unless you are certain you are speaking to an O&R representative.
O&R urges customers to never provide a Social Security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone requesting it unless you initiated the contact and know the identity of the person with whom you are speaking.
Anyone who feels they may have been a target of an imposter or a payment scam should call their local police department. They may also call O&R at 1-877-434-4100.
O&R’s website, http://www.oru.com offers a variety of approved and convenient options for bill payment.