Central Hudson Gas & Electric is warning customers to exercise extra caution after a Catskill man was robbed by two men posing as employees of the utility company on Thursday, December 10, 2020.
The men approached the victim’s door and identified themselves as Central Hudson employees who were replacing a transformer in the area, requesting to inspect the victim’s circuit breaker panel. It was later determined that the subjects stole cash after gaining entry to the home.
“Central Hudson follows strict protocols when communicating and interacting with our customers,” said Charles A. Freni, President and CEO. "Employees and authorized contractors carry photo identification, and will always display it upon request. If there is ever any doubt about the authenticity of a contact, whether in person, on line or by phone, customers should call Central Hudson at 845-452-2700 to inquire about any suspicious person claiming to be an employee." He added that customers may also wish to note a vehicle’s license plate information, caller ID, or email addresses and report the incident to their local police department.
Residents should also remember:
• All Central Hudson employees and contractors will provide photo identification upon request;
• Central Hudson employees rarely have to enter a customer’s home. Exceptions include reports of a gas leak or smell;
• Customers should never open their door or grant access if they have doubts or are unable to verify employment;
• Customers who feel they are in physical danger should call 911 immediately.
Other signs of a potential scam include:
• Bill Payment or Credit Con: Scammers provide a phony account routing number to pay utility bills, receive a credit, or obtain federal assistance.
• Equipment or Repair Bogus Fee: Scammers call demanding a separate payment to replace or install a utility-related device or meter.
• Smishing Scam: Smishing, short for SMS phishing, attempts to trick mobile phone users into giving scammers personal information via text or SMS messages, which can then be used for identity theft.
• Bogus Bills: Scammers send suspicious emails that appear to be a utility bill, potentially featuring the utility's logo and color scheme. Do not click on any links or attachments in any email unless the sender is verified.
Customers can protect themselves by:
• Never purchasing a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Central Hudson does not specify how customers should make a bill payment and offers a variety of payment methods including online, by phone, automatic bank draft, U.S. mail or in person.
• Hanging up the phone, deleting the email or shutting the door when threatened with immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, if this was the first and only notification. Central Hudson follows state regulations by issuing advance notifications, and never a single call one hour or less before taking action.
• Calling Central Hudson for verification using the number on their bill, (845) 452-2700, and not the phone number the scammer provides.