WESTBOROUGH, Mass. (WWLP) – Columbia Gas is teaming up with other gas and electric utility companies to protect customers from schemes targeting utility service providers.
Columbia Gas of Massachusetts said one scheme includes customers receiving unsolicited phone calls from someone who claims to be a Columbia Gas of Massachusetts representative. They’re told that Columbia Gas will disconnect the customer’s gas service if they don’t make a payment.
Columbia Gas of Massachusetts also said some of these schemes use caller ID spoofing to replicate Columbia Gas of Massachusetts’ customer service number.
President of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, Steve Bryant advises:
“Unfortunately, the busy holiday season is the time of year when customers are most vulnerable to scams; whether through phone calls, emails, or knocks on the door. If you are concerned about suspicious account activity and are unsure about the legitimacy of any email, phone call, program or offer claiming to be affiliated with Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, please call our Customer Service Center at 800-688-6160.”
Columbia Gas of Massachusetts said the following are red flags:
- The thief becomes angry and tells the customer his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected is a payment isn’t made – usually within less than an hour.
- The thief instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card – widely available at retail stores – then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment. The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.
Columbia Gas of Massachusetts also gives tips on how to protect yourself:
- Columbia Gas of Massachusetts never asks or requires a customer with a delinquent account to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
- Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person. Click here to see a list of authorized payment agents.
- Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification with the regular monthly billing – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
- If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, hang up and call the local police then Columbia Gas of Massachusetts at 800-688-6160. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.
The Utilities United Against Scams collaboration designated November 16th as utilities United Against Scams Day.