Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith is warning area merchants of a telephone scam which has been detected recently in Putnam County.
The Sheriff’s Office and local police have been notified that some local businesses, many of them restaurants, have received telephone calls from an individual claiming to be a representative from New York State Electric and Gas who is calling about billing matters. Some customers have been contacted and warned that to avoid their service from being shut off they would have to make payment immediately. The caller instructs the merchant that the only way to resolve the matter and avoid an interruption of service is to immediately go and purchase a “Green Dot Money Pak” and contact the caller with the card information. These phone calls may be received during the busy hours of operation making it more urgent to comply with the caller’s demands.
“Green Dot Money Paks” may be purchased in several retail stores throughout the region. They are akin to Western Union and Money Grams in that once information is provided about the intended recipient; the recipient can pick up the money anywhere in the world that provides that service.
NYSEG officials are aware of this scam and have offered tips to keep account information secure:
NYSEG will not call a customer for payment if an account is in good standing.
NYSEG will never ask a customer to purchase a debit card to make a payment.
Customers who need to make an urgent payment should do so by calling NYSEG directly at 1-800-600-2275 to ensure that their account is properly credited.
Customers who have any questions about a call they have received for an overdue payment are likewise urged to contact NYSEG at 1-800-572-1111.
Sheriff Smith added, “Anyone believing that they have been victimized by this scam is asked to report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission (http://www.ftc.gov/), their local police or the Sheriff’s Office at (845) 225-4300.”