Consumers, Beware of PSEG Scams in New Jersey
Scams involving PSEG are unfortunately not uncommon, and seem to happen every year. Have you been a victim of fraud involving PSE&G? Here we explain some of the common types of scams that con artists and scammers use to fool PSEG customers, so that you can stay safe.
Common PSEG Scams
Most types of scams involving PSEG customers tend to have similar characteristics. They usually target small businesses or households in the PSEG service area, and usually involve people posing as PSEG employees threatening customers of impending service disconnection if they don't pay money immediately.
How to Avoid Being Scammed
While con artists and scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated (see our descriptions of recent scams targeting PSE&G customers below), spotting a scam can be fairly easy if you stay aware of a few facts
General Tips for Avoiding Scams
Get in the habit of following these tips when dealing with anyone who contacts you (whether in person or over the phone) claiming to be representing PSEG.
- PSEG's customer service number is 1-800-436-PSEG (7734), and their payment assistance number is 1-800-357-2262. Be wary of any calls from people claiming to be from PSEG that does not come from these numbers
- If you receive a visit or a phone call from someone claiming to be from PSEG but who you don't trust, call the PSEG customer service number for your area. If you think it is an emergency, call 9-1-1
- Never provide your Social Security Number, credit card number, and/or bank account information to anyone requesting it unless it was you initiated the contact and you are sure of the identity of the person you are speaking with.
When PSE&G makes outbound phone calls to customers, they share customer-specific information with the customer, such as the account name, address, number and current balance. You can verify a phone call from PSEG by asking the representative to provide the last five digits of your PSEG account number (make sure to have this handy with you!)
- Always ask for identification: all PSEG employees should have company photo identification cards. If you are approached in person by someone claiming to represent PSEG, ask to see their ID. Any contractor doing work for PSEG is also required to carry a PSEG ID. Most PSEG employees also travel in clearly marked PSEG vehicles when providing service to residences and businesses.
- Never let anyone into your home if they cannot show you official PSE&G ID, or if you have any doubt about their authenticity. For example, if someone comes to your door and you are not sure whether they truly are a PSEG representative, tell them to wait outside, and call PSEG customer service to confirm their identification
Avoiding PSEG Phone Scams
You can avoid falling for a phone scam from someone claiming to be calling from PSEG if you remember these tips.
Verify the identity of the caller: PSEG representatives should be able to provide you with exact details of your account, such as the last five digits of your account number, and/or the exact balance on your account. If you doubt the identity of the caller (if any of the information they provide to you is incorrect), hang up immediately and call PSEG customer service at 1-800-436-PSEG (7734).
Be careful about providing personal information: be wary of providing personal information (including your banking/credit card information, or Social Security Number) to anyone who calls you, unless you are sure about the caller's authenticity
Know when PSEG might call you: PSEG may contact customers with past due balances by phone to offer payment options and to remind them that service disconnection is a possibility if they fail to pay their past due balance. However, they will never demand only one payment option to avoid shutoff. Customers who may face impending service disconnection if they don't pay their past due balance still have the option of paying by check, credit card or debit card.
Be aware of PSE&G's disconnection process: PSEG must follow certain rules set by the New York Public Services Commission when it comes to disconnecting customers for non-payment. It is unlikely that you will be unaware of having missed a payment before receiving a final disconnection notice. Find out more about the service shutoff procedure PSEG must follow.
Avoiding Door to Door Scams
Keep these tips in mind when you receive a visit at the door from anyone claiming to be representing PSE&G
- If you receive a visit from a PSE&G employee who you have doubts about, do not let them into your home until you have first called PSE&G to confirm their identity.
- Do not show your bill to anyone who knocks on your door
- Know why PSEG might visit you: PSEG does not does not conduct sales door-to-door, nor do they offer home energy services (such as residential equipment inspections or maintenance services)
Backgrounder: PSE&G's Disconnection Process
Many scammers contact PSEG customers telling them that their power or gas bills haven't been paid, and they will have their energy service disconnected imminently unless they pay immediately. However, PSEG - like all New Jersey utilities - must follow certain rules for disconnection that have been set out by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
When Can PSEG Shut Off Service?
This last point is important. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities requires PSEG to provide a final notice of termination or disconnection to the customer, 10 days before the date that they actually cut service. The notice must clearly state that it is a final notice before impending disconnection (the NY PSC even goes so far to provide example language that utilities should use in the notice). This notice must be either delivered in person to the service address, or be sent by mail. PSEG is also required to wait until at least 20 days after the payment due date before they can send out a final disconnection notice.
Furthermore, PSEG is only allowed to disconnect service between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and not on public holidays or any other day on which PSEG's main business office is closed for business. They also cannot terminate/disconnect service to any residential customer who has a valid medical condition.
As part of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Customer Bill of Rights, elderly or low-income customers with financial problems paying their bills are eligible for the Winter Termination Program, which guarantees the right to have gas and electric utility service from November 15 to March 15 without fear of termination if the customer is enrolled in a budget plan and is making good-faith payments of all reasonable bills for service.
Finally, all electricity customers have the right to at least one deferred payment plan per year.
What does this all mean? Well, one of the most important points to remember is that it is very unlikely that you will be unaware that you have missed a payment before you receive notice of an upcoming disconnection. PSE&G prefers to resolve payment problems before termination is necessary. If your service is scheduled for disconnection, you must have already received a written warning. Call PSE&G at 1-800-357-2262 if you ever think you will have trouble making a bill. As mentioned previously, you have the right to at least one deferred payment plan every year.
Another thing to keep in mind is that PSEG can only disconnect your service at certain times of the week. If you receive an impending service disconnection call from someone claiming to be working for PSEG on the weekend or on a holiday, then you should call PSEG straight away (at the appropriate customer service number), as this is likely fraudulent.
PSEG Bill Payment Options
As a reminder, PSEG accepts the following payment options for your bill:
- With cash: at any authorized payment center within the PSEG service area.
- By check or money order: only when you mail your payment to the following address (which should match the address on the pay stub portion of your bill): PSE&G, PO Box 14444 New Brunswick, NJ 08906.
- Through your bank account: you can do this online, through your PSEG My Account, or over the phone by calling PSEG 1-800-553-7734, or through your online bank account.
- By credit/debit card: you can pay by credit/debit card at an authorized payment centers, or over the phone at 1-888-575-6273. Note that a $3.95 processing fee applies
Keep in mind that PSEG does not accept pre-paid debit cards (such as the Green Dot Money Pak) or gift cards as payment.
What to do if you think you've been the victim of a scam
Call PSEG if you think that you've been the victim of a scam involving someone impersonating a PSEG representative. You may also call your local police department to report the scam.
Previous PSEG Scams
Here is a short summary of some of the recent scams that have targeted PSE&G customers.
Fall 2015: This scam primarily targeted small businesses. Scammers pretending to be PSE&G representatives called PSE&G customers telling them that their account balance was overdue and their service would be shut off unless they paid immediately. The payment requested was by pre-paid debit card. The fraud victims were given a number to call back once they had purchased the card. This number featured an interactive voice response prompts that imitated what PSE&G customers would hear when calling the real PSE&G customer service line. The line was answered by a fake PSE&G representative, who asked for the number of the pre-paid debit card, which they would use to take the money from the card. This could happen within a matter of minutes. Find out more about the procedure for service shutoff that PSEG is required to follow.
Summer 2015: This scam targeted Hoboken residents and small businesses. PSE&G customers received a phone call from a 1-800 number telling them that they were behind on their bills and faced imminent shutoff unless they paid within a certain time period, usually about 30 minutes. The payment method required was by pre-paid debit card, which is not an accepted payment method for PSEG.
Winter 2014: Some PSE&G customers reported receiving emails that looked like a pending utility bill with a link to view account information. However, bills sent by PSE&G to customers via email would be sent from [email protected], and the utility would not ask its customers to provide personal information online without first logging into their personal MyAccount on www.pseg.com.
Summer 2012: This was part of a nation-wide scam scam involving a false federal government bill subsidy. As many as 10,000 PSE&G customers fell victim to this fraud. Customers received an email, phone call, or text message telling them of a new stimulus plan that would pay that month’s utility bill. To apply, all customers needed to do was provide a Social Security number and their own bank routing code. Customers who were fooled risked having their identity stolen.