Call 4 Action: Beware of scammers posing as the electric company this season

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(WIVB) – It’s a call that can give you more than a chill this time of year- your electric bill is past due, and the power company is cutting off your electricity if you don’t pay immediately.

That’s what happened to a Town of Tonawanda homeowner, who called Call 4 Action.

Jean-Pierre Auger has serious medical issues in his household so he makes sure the electric bill is paid on time.

So when a caller claimed to be from National Grid demanded he pay up, Auger was automatically suspicious.

“A lady at the other end said ‘this is National Grid calling to inform you that we are turning off your power in 45 minutes’,” Auger said.

After a second call a few minutes later, Auger called National Grid, and they confirmed it was a scam.

“I know my bills are paid so there was no reason they had to turn the power off,” Auger said.

News 4 has covered other National Grid scams like this- and they sometimes go after small businesses, like the Bowl Inn Lanes last year.

“I said, ‘Oh, by the way, I know you’re a fraud, I have already reported you to the police and all the local news stations’,” said Mark Williamson, proprietor of the bowling alley, said. “Then he said something that was not very kind to me and hung up on me.”

Public utility officials say scammers are getting more sophisticated in their methods, including a recent scheme telling customers they are entitled to rebates.

“It’s hard to distinguish for those receiving the calls what is coming from National Grid and what is not,” said National Grid spokesperson David Bertola.

Bertola said their first calls to customers are never shutoff threats, especially during the colder months when they’re prohibited from service disconnects.

Consumer advocates say to never give any personal information to someone you don’t know- over the phone, the internet, or email- and Bertola agrees.

If there are any questions about your electric bill, Bertola says to call the number on the bill and ask for help.

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