BUFFALO — National Grid encourages its customers to be vigilant and protect their personal information, as reports of utility billing and payment scams increase across upstate New York.
Customers report that emails and telephone calls claiming to be from National Grid demand immediate payment for past due balances on their utility bills, company officials said in a news release. In some cases, the customer was promised savings on their next bill.
Though the scams are not new, the imposters have taken additional steps to convince customers they work for National Grid. Customers contacted in the latest scam report that the caller will provide a name, an office location from where they are calling, and an identification number.
In many cases, the scammers use a practice called spoofing, in which the caller ID and return number will have National Grid’s name and correct phone number.
Scammers threaten to terminate the customer’s service immediately unless payment is made, either by providing bank or credit card information, or by purchasing a prepaid debit card — such as a GreenDot card — and providing the caller with the card’s account number.
Businesses contacted receive a similar threat but are asked to make Western Union money transfers.
The callers have also asked for Social Security numbers and National Grid account numbers, officials…