MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The Long Island Power Authority has issued a warning about a new utility scam.
As WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported, hundreds of LIPA customers have received calls from a person who claims they work for the utility. The purported LIPA employee then tells the customer that their power will be shut off if they fail to buy a Green Dot MoneyPak card to pay their bills.
LIPA does not accept payment through those prepaid cards. The caller directs customers to buy the prepaid card in an effort to get money and personal information.
The caller has also told customers their meters are broken and need to pay to have them fixed. The meters are LIPA’s property so customers would never have to pay for their repair, Hall reported.
Vincent LaRocca, manager of the Red River Inn in Yaphank, said he received a call from a man claiming to be from LIPA, warning him that he would lose his power within the hour if he didn’t make a Green Dot MoneyPak immediately.
The caller demanded $2,000, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.
“He had the business name, he had the account number, he had everything and that’s what put me into a panic because if he has that information how can he not be real,” LaRocca said.
LaRocca didn’t pay and reached out to Suffolk County legislator Kate Browning who told him that the Green Dot MoneyPak demand was a scam.
LIPA posted a warning on its website advising customers who receive suspicious calls to just hang up. The utility said they never demand direct payment over the telephone and don’t accept credit or debit card payments.
Anyone who thinks they’ve been the victim of a fraudulent call or has questions about their bill are urged to call the LIPA Customer Contact Center at 1-800-490-0025 or 631-755-6000.
The Better Business Bureau urges people to follow some tips to avoid being taken advantage of in a scam:
- Never provide your social security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you initiated the contact and feel confident with whom you are speaking.
- If you receive a call claiming to be your utility company and feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill.
- Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless you have scheduled an appointment or have reported a utility problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification.
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