Bayonne Police Issue Warning About Utility Bill Scam

Mayor Mark A. Smith announced that the Bayonne Police Department has issued a warning about a utility bill scam that has plagued several Bayonne businesses in recent days.
At least five Bayonne businesses have been contacted by someone posing as a PSE&G representative over the telephone. In each case, the caller threatened to shut off electric power to the business unless it paid the scammer quickly with Green Dot Money Paks. Green Dot is a brand that offers pre-paid money cards for sale at local stores. Over the phone, the scammer reportedly asked victims to read off the serial numbers on the cards, so that he could withdraw cash value from them.
In some cases, the businesses realized immediately that it was a scam and contacted the police. In other cases, the businesses believed the scammer, realized their mistake later, and then contacted the police. In each instance, the scammer seemed to know the exact amount of money that the business owed to PSE&G. The police are investigating this situation. The Bayonne Detective Bureau has been in touch with PSE&G and various law enforcement agencies to advise them about this scam’s appearance in Bayonne. Police Chief Ralph Scianni said that only business customers of PSE&G in Bayonne have reported the scam so far. It is possible that the scammer could be attempting to defraud local non-commercial customers who have not reported other incidents to the Bayonne Police Department. Chief Scianni requested anyone who is contacted by the scammer to report the incident to the Bayonne Police Department and PSE&G. Last month, PSE&G advised the public that both residential and commercial customers have reported this same telephone scam at various New Jersey locations. In its advisory, PSE&G said, “The utility offers a variety of payment options and would never require a customer to use one specific type of payment.” Furthermore, PSE&G does not actually accept Green Dot Money Paks for the payment of utility bills.
For inquiries about the legitimacy of calls purporting to be from PSE&G, or to report scamming attempts, consumers should contact the company at 1-800-436-PSEG (7734). The utility explained, “PSE&G customers scheduled for disconnection due to nonpayment receive written notice on their bill at least 10 days in advance. Customers who are struggling to pay their bills are encouraged to call PSE&G at 1-888-275-PSEG (7734) to learn about programs that can help.”
The Police Department advises residents who have received the scamming phone calls, or who have concerns and questions about scams, to call the main police number, 201-858-6900, or the Detective Bureau at 201-858-6925. For emergency situations, people should dial 911.