PEARL RIVER, N.Y. -- O&R is warning its customers about scammers who call homes and businesses posing as company representatives and demanding instant payment of utility bills.
Such callers remain an ongoing and dangerous problem for O&R customers, officials at the company said.
In an effort to raise awareness of the scams, O&R and more than two dozen other energy companies have formed a partnership.
Wednesday marked “Utilities United Against Scams Day,” which kicked off a week-long campaign to provide customers with information exposing the tricks scammers use to steal money and tips on how customers can protect themselves.
Scammers 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.
The callers are not from O&R, which 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, instructing 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 also 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.
O&R reminds customers to be alert if anyone calls and asks to arrange for pre-paid debit cards or a MoneyGram transfer as payment for a 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.
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.
If you believe you may have been targeted by an imposter or a payment scam, call your local police department, or contact O&R at 877-434-4100.
For more information on approved options for payment, click here.