A statewide utility trade association is warning customers in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the recent nor’easter to be wary of people falsely identifying themselves as members of local utility companies and asking for personal information.
The New Jersey Utilities Association (NJUA) said Tuesday utility customers should “be on guard against individuals that falsely claim to be company representatives.
“While so many are reaching out to assist those whose lives have been disrupted by the recent storms, there are also the few who will take advantage of people at their time of need,” NJUA President and CEO Andrew Hendry said. “We want to remind our customers to take extra precautions and protect themselves and their property from strangers that attempt to gain access to customers’ personal and account information and their residences.
To avoid being victimized, NJUA is advising customers to take extra steps to ensure people calling or knocking on their doors claiming to represent a utility company are legitimate.
The group is offering the following tips to homeowners:
- The public should be aware that utilities do not initiate calls to customers requesting their account information, mailing address, driver’s license or Social Security numbers. To protect customer accounts, utilities will routinely ask customers for identifying information when the customer contacts them, but not the other way around.
- If someone arrives at a customers’ home or business claiming to be a utility company employee or contractor, they should be asked to produce identification. All utility company employees and contractors wear or carry identification badges or cards bearing the company name and logo, and the employee's or contractor's color photograph. Public Safety officials advise residents to look closely at the identification to make sure the person at their door is the same as the one in the picture.
- When confronted by someone that cannot give proof of their affiliation, customers should refuse admittance and call local police immediately. If the person at the door produces I.D., but the customer remains concerned, prior to admitting the person into their home, the homeowner should call the utility company at the number listed below to confirm the representative’s authenticity.
Jersey Central Power & Light/A FirstEnergy Company, 1-800-662-3115
New Jersey American Water Company, 1-800-652-6987
Public Service Electric & Gas Company, 1-800-436-7734
Verizon NJ, 1-800-837-4966