PLAINVIEW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — If you’ve gotten more scam calls lately, you’re not alone.
PSEG Long Island said Monday it has been seeing a 50% jump in phony solicitations. CBS2’s Nick Caloway has more on how you can avoid becoming a victim.
Phone scammers have been a nuisance for years. The more they call, the more annoying they are.
“I get about two or three a day,” said Christopher Ramirez of Corona, Queens.
“I used to get them about four or five times a day at a certain point,” added Steven Reider of Bayside.
The scourge of scammers may be getting worse.
PSEG Long Island said it is seeing a spike in fraudulent calls, where criminals pretend to work for the utility. More than 6,600 scam calls were reported to the company in 2019. That’s up from the 4,088 calls the utility reported in 2018.
As scammers become more prolific, they also have gotten more sophisticated.
In many case, scammers are even able to spoof a caller ID, so it looks like PSEG Long Island is calling.
Bruce Sackman of Plainview said he got one of those calls on his voice mail last week.
“Pending balance on the account. Please call the direct billing department number at…,” the recording said.
He said he called the number and the person on the other end of the call threatened to turn off his power if he didn’t pay $600.
He said almost fell for the ruse, but checked his account first.
“I was actually believing this for a minute. And I said to him again, ‘Are you sure this is not a scam?’ Then he hung up,” Sackman said.
PSEG Long Island security investigator Robert Vessichelli said the company will never ask for a pre-paid card, wire transfer, or Bitcoin. Scammers ask for them because they are untraceable.
“If you’re in doubt at all, call the number on your bill,” Vessichelli said.
As for Sackman, he said he’s glad he didn’t become a victim, though he almost did.
“It’s so easy to be victimized, because they sounded very legitimate,” Sackman said.
Officials with PSEG Long Island said there’s usually an uptick in calls around the holidays, but warn to be careful all year long.