National Grid’s gas and electric customers in Rhode Island are urged to be vigilant after a growing number of scam efforts reported throughout the state in recent weeks.
According to a press release from Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, his office has seen an increase in reported attempts targeting both residential and business customers by phone.
He said scammers are using a variety of methods other than just phone calls, however, including phone texts, email solicitations and even in-person visits.
The most recent phone scam is an automated message alleging to be from National Grid. The message informs consumers that they have a past due balance on their account and their power will be shut off in the next 30 to 40 minutes if an immediate payment isn’t made to the number provided.
Similar scams of trying to rush payments have been reported by utility customers across the U.S.
“Scammers know that more and more people are at home during this time and answering the phone,” Neronha said. “Calls to our consumer protection team about these types of scams have increased during the pandemic, as fraudsters get more and more sophisticated in their attempts to con you out of your money.”
“The way to protect yourself is simple. Never give out personal or financial information over the phone, even if the caller tells you they are from a legitimate business like National Grid,” he said.
National Grid Rhode Island President Terry Sobolewski said during the pandemic, with some struggling to pay bills and many people spending more time at home, scammers have increased efforts targeting the utility’s customers. He urged customers to remain cautious and utilize the company’s website to remain informed.
“Even in the midst of a pandemic there continues to be nefarious actors looking to take advantage of both our residential and business customers,” Sobolewski said. “If you believe you are current on your National Grid account, it’s very likely a call seeking payment is not being truthful. Hang up and call our customer service line to confirm you are in good standing and report the scam.”
Customers with questions should always contact National Grid using the toll-free telephone numbers listed on the billing statement. You may also verify that you are speaking with a National Grid representative by asking the representative to confirm the last five digits of your account number.
When someone visits in person, customers are encouraged to ask for identification. Every National Grid employee carries a photo ID card, and any contractor doing work for the company is also required to carry ID. If someone requesting entry into your home or place of business does not show an ID card, don’t let that person in and call local law enforcement.
Customers who have received suspicious calls can call National Grid’s Customer Contact Center to answer any billing questions at 800-322-3223, or visit www.nationalgridus.com. To report the scam to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit, call 401-274-4400 or email email@example.com.