Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and National Grid are warning Rhode Islanders that reports of a persistent utility billing scam have once again resurfaced in the area. Consumer warnings have been issued several times previously when reports of similar scams spiked; however, con artists continue to attempt to carry out various iterations of this scheme. The Office was contacted by a local restaurateur who almost was scammed out of nearly $1,000.
In the most recent version of the scam, an individual claiming to be a service technician from National Grid contacted a local business owner, saying he was en route to his place of business to shut off the power supply. When disputing the delinquency, the service technician provided the business owner with a customer service phone number to call to clear up the issue.
When the business owner contacted the illegitimate customer service representative, they were told that even though the customer had sent in a payment, due to a problem with the National Grid system the payment was returned – and the only way to override the system and prevent shutoff was with an immediate payment via a "Green Dot" pre-paid debit card. The so-called customer service rep even provided the business owner with names and addresses of several retail locations in the area that sell "Green Dot" cards. The customer service rep indicated the payment and the fee for the Green Dot" card would either be refunded once the system is up and running properly or could be applied to a future bill.
Attorney General Kilmartin and National Grid remind business owners and all residents that National Grid may contact customers with past due balances by phone to offer payment options, BUT NEVER demands direct payment over the telephone.
Customers who have received calls demanding immediate payment and are asked to wire money using a "Green Dot" card or for bank account information should contact National Grid immediately at National Grid's Customer Contact Center at 1-800-322-3223.
"Thankfully this business owner recognized this as a scam and did not fall prey to their persuasive and pushy con," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "These illegal outfits are quick to change the con when the public becomes savvy to it, but sadly they continue to devise new techniques to scam unsuspecting, hard working business owners."