The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) is warning all customers of a new, nationwide utility bill scam. Recently, numerous LIPA customers have received telephone calls from individuals claiming to work for LIPA, demanding payment through a pre-paid card on past-due balances. These non-LIPA callers threaten customers that if they don’t make payment through these pre-paid cards, their service will immediately be shut-off for non-payment. Customers are then directed to purchase such a pre-paid card to make the payment in order to keep their power on.
In some cases the caller also tells the customer that they may have a faulty meter that is dangerous and in need of replacing for a substantial fee. Customers should be aware that the electric meter is the property of LIPA and is not customer-owned equipment.
In reality, LIPA does not accept payments through pre-paid cards, and customers should not give any confidential information to any such callers. LIPA does contact customers with past due balances by phone to offer payment options, but never demands direct payment over the telephone. LIPA currently does not accept credit or debit card payments. Customers who have received calls demanding immediate payment through a pre-paid card or who have billing questions should call the Customer Contact Center at 1-800-490-0025 or 631-755-6000.
To avoid falling for this scam, LIPA is encouraging customers to use the following tips from the Better Business Bureau.
- Never provide your social security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you initiated the contact and feel confident with whom you are speaking.
- If you receive a call claiming to be your utility company (or any company that you do business with, have a bank account with or a credit card account with) and feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number for that company.
- Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless you have scheduled an appointment or have reported a utility problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification and look for the marked truck outside.
- Always think safety first. Do not give in to high pressure tactics over the phone for information or in person to get into your home.