More businesses targeted in utility payment scam, Suffolk cops say

A PSEG-Long Island truck in Hicksville. Some PSEG A PSEG-Long Island truck in Hicksville. Some PSEG Long Island customers are receiving fake emails appearing to be billing statements and asking for personal information, the utility said. (Jan. 1, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

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More businesses are reporting being targeted in a scam to collect payments for PSEG Long Island, Suffolk County police said Tuesday.

Det. Lt. John O'Brien of the Fifth Squad called the scam "an ongoing problem" and said several businesses are duped "on a weekly basis."

A spokesman for the utility said in June that since PSEG Long Island took over as electricity provider in January, more than 230 of its 1.1 million customers had been swindled for payments via fake phone calls.

O'Brien said if a business owner is contacted for a bill payment by phone he or she should first verify that the call is legitimate.

"Call the utility," O'Brien said. Don't use the number the caller gives you, but look up the number on your own, call the utility company directly and verify that a payment needs to be made, he said.

Under the scam, callers identify themselves as PSEG employees and tell victims their electricity will be turned off if a payment is not made. The victims are told to purchase a Green Dot Money Pak card at a pharmacy or convenience store, use cash to put money on the card, and provide the number of the card to the caller.

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PSEG doesn't even accept Green Dot Money Pak cards as a payment option, police said.

Customers doubting the legitimacy of a phone call can call PSEG at 800-490-0025.

Anyone who thinks they might be a victim also can visit suffolkpd.org and click the "Scam Alerts" icon.

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