Residents should remain on alert for utility scams

JACKSON – Fraudulent phone calls made by people claiming to work for Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) have prompted municipal officials to ask residents to stay alert for scams.

According to officials, JCP&L representatives have reached out to Jackson to issue alerts of potential scam artists who pose as employees of the utility company in phone calls to customers.

Mayor Michael Reina said some residents informed JCP&L they were told by a caller that their electricity was going to be shut off if a payment was not made immediately. Some people reported being told that payment would be accepted via a prepaid debit card, a money transfer or in person.

Similar scam alerts were reported to Jackson and its residents in May 2014. At least one small business owner fell for the scam, resulting in the loss of more than $1,500.

According to a 2014 study by the Federal Trade Commission, people posing as employees of a company for alleged debt collection purposes was the second largest type of scam in the nation, with more than 280,000 complaints reported. Only identity theft ranked higher, with more than 332,000 reported instances.

Jackson officials said they want residents to know that JCP&L “does not accept prepaid debit cards or wire transfers as payment,” nor will the utility’s representatives ask for personal banking information over the phone.

A written notice of an account’s past due status should have been received before collections calls are made.

Reina encouraged residents to call the police if they believe they have been the target of the scam.

“Telephone scammers are good at what they do and can be very convincing, so I urge residents to not be deceived by these threatening phone calls,” the mayor said.