NJ Consumer Affairs alert : PSE&G Bill Payment Scam

July 13, 2012

prepared by NJ Consumer Affairs

Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) is alerting its customers about a nationwide phony bill payment program that promises to credit or pay utility bills in exchange for personal information, including victims’ social security numbers,

The scam has been reported in a number of states. The scammers are using phone calls, texts, emails, and social media to reach consumers with the false claim that the President of the United States is helping consumers pay their utility bills.

Here is a description of the scam:

· Someone calls a utility customer and tells them the Federal government has a program to pay utility bills on a one-time basis.
· Customers are asked to provide their social security numbers in order to apply for the program.
· The scammers then give customers a phone federal reserve bank routing number to receive the payment.

Some PSE&G customers attempted to enter the fake routing number, then called the company to verify that the government made the payment on their behalf.

In addition, some consumers who became aware of the phony bank account number have in turn passed this number to friends and family via text and social media. Since this message comes from a friend or family member, and doesn't include the request for a social security number used in the original scam, even more consumers are trying to pay their bills with the phony bank account number.

PSE&G is warning customers that this is a scam; payments are not being made; and their unpaid balances are still due.

The utility company also noted, “If you are contacted by someone purporting to be from PSEG requesting your social security number, username or password, do not provide it. And don’t click on any links accompanying the communication or respond in any manner.”

More information about this scam can be found at PSE&G’s website,
http://www.pseg.com/info/media/newsreleases/2012/2012-05-25.jsp. The company urges consumers to report any calls resembling the scam to PSEG-BAandR@pseg.com. Customers who have doubts about the legitimacy of any call from PSE&G, especially one in which payment is requested, should call the utility directly at 1-800-436-7734.

Any consumer who receives a phone call, text message, email, or social networking message that resembles this scam, and anyone who has fallen victim to this scam, is urged to call the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey ) or 973-504-6200, or by visiting its website (
http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/index.htm ).