WARWICK — With a recent increase in scams announced by the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office and National Grid, the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association (RIPCA) wishes to warn the public to be vigilant of scammers posing as bill collectors.
Customers have reported receiving a phone call with an automated message alleging to be from National Grid. The message informs the customer that they have a past due balance and demands payment. The message threatens that the customer’s service will be immediately shut off if payment is not received.
Scammers will often demand payment through non-traditional means, like an electronic money order or a pre-paid debit card. This should be an immediate red flag. No legitimate vendor will ever demand money via these means. Additionally, these scammers use a variety of methods to prey on their victims including phone calls, texts, email solicitation or in-person visits.
“With the recent uptick in utility bill scams, it is important to remain cognizant so that you and your loved ones do not get taken advantage of,” said Lincoln Police Chief and RIPCA President Brian Sullivan. “If you receive any suspicious calls, or believe that you are a victim of a scam, please do not hesitate to contact your local police department.”
To avoid falling victim to these types of scams, RIPCA recommends that residents follow tips outlined by National Grid and the Attorney General’s Office:
- Customers should always contact National Grid using the toll-free telephone numbers listed on the billing statement. If you are provided a phone number that does not match the numbers on the billing statement, the call may very well be a scam.
- If you believe you are current on your National Grid account, it is likely that a call seeking payment is not valid. Hang up and call the customer service number listed on your billing statement.
- Verify that you are speaking with a National Grid representative by asking them to confirm the last five digits of your National Grid account number. National Grid representatives will know your account number; never offer that information to a caller.
- If the caller doesn’t know your account number and you have any doubt the caller is a National Grid representative, or if they have any questions about account balance and are fishing for information, take charge and hang up immediately. Call National Grid or the Office of the Attorney General.
- National Grid may ask for a payment over the phone but will leave the method of payment up to the customer.
- National Grid will not contact customers demanding immediate payment by wire transfer, pre-paid debit cards, iTunes cards, Green Dot Money-Pak or any other pre-paid card service.
- Never offer personal or financial information to someone who you cannot identify.
- 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 National Grid or your local police department.
- Whenever in doubt, don’t hesitate to call National Grid or your local police department.
Customers who receive suspicious calls should contact National Grid’s Customer Contact Center at 1-800-322-3223. For more information, please visit ngrid.com/scam.
To report a scam, residents are encouraged to call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at 401-274-4400 or email email@example.com.