Consumers, Beware: Scams Involving Central Hudson
Unfortunately, scams involving utilities like Central Hudson are fairly common. Have you been a victim of fraud involving Central Hudson? Here we explain some of the common types of scams that con artists and scammers use to prey on Central Hudson customers, so that you can stay safe.
Common Features of Central Hudson Scams
Scams involving Central Hudson tend to share some common features
- The scams target small businesses or vulnerable households in the Central Hudson service area
- They often involve the threat of immediate disconnection if Central Hudson customers don't pay money immediately
- Often they will ask customers to use payment methods that are not part of Central Hudson's payment options, including pre-paid debit cards
Central Hudson impersonators may try to enter customer homes by asking to see their bills and/or meters, and may steal goods or demand money for their services.
How to Avoid Being Scammed
While con artists and scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated (see our descriptions of recent scams targeting Central Hudson 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 Central Hudson.
- Always ask for identification: all Central Hudson employees should have company photo identification cards. If you are approached in person by someone claiming to represent Central Hudson, ask to see their ID. Any contractor doing work for Central Hudson is also required to carry a Central Hudson ID. Central Hudson employees will travel in clearly marked Central Hudson vehicles when providing service to residences and businesses.
- 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.
- Never let anyone into your home if they cannot show you official Central Hudson 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 Central Hudson representative, tell them to wait outside, and call Central Hudson customer service to confirm their identification
- Central Hudson's customer service numbers are 845-452-2700 and 1-800-527-2714. Their number for payment arrangements is 845-452-2700. Be extremely cautious of any calls from people claiming to be from Central Hudson that do not come from these numbers, and never make a payment on a website that comes from a link in an email or on a website that isn't linked to Central Hudson.
If you receive a visit or a phone call from someone claiming to be from Central Hudson but who you don't trust, call Central Hudson customer service, or your local police. If you think it is an emergency, call 9-1-1
One way of avoiding most types of Central Hudson scams is to sign up for automated billing. With Central Hudson's Direct Pay service, your total amount due from your bill is automatically deducted from your account each month. Find out more about Direct Pay.
Avoiding Central Hudson Phone Scams
You can avoid falling for a phone scam from someone claiming to be calling from Central Hudson if you remember these tips:
Verify the identity of the caller: Central Hudson 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, hang up immediately and call Central Hudson customer service at 845-452-2700.
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 authenticity of the caller.
Never give personal information such as your SSN or credit card information over the phone unless you are sure about the authenticity of the caller
Know when Central Hudson might call you: Central Hudson 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 never will demand immediate payment as the only 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 Central Hudson's disconnection process: Central Hudson must 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 Central Hudson must follow.
Verify a phone call from Central Hudson by asking the representative to provide the last four or five digits of your Central Hudson account number (make sure to have this handy with you!), or ask them for their employee number
Avoiding Door to Door Scams
Keep these tips in mind when you receive a visit at the door from anyone claiming to be representing Central Hudson
- Central Hudson employees should always arrive in marked Central Hudson vehicles, and have official Central Hudson identification on hand (uniform, photo ID card)
- If you receive a visit from a Central Hudson employee who you have doubts about, do not let them into your home until you have first called Central Hudson to confirm their identity.
- Know why Central Hudson might visit you: Central Hudson does not conduct sales door-to-door, nor do they offer home energy services (such as residential equipment inspections or maintenance services).
- Do not show your bill to anyone who knocks on your door.
Backgrounder: Central Hudson's Disconnection Process
Many scammers contact Central Hudson 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, Central Hudson - like all New York utilities - must follow certain rules for disconnection that have been set out by the New York Public Services Commission.
When Can Central Hudson Shut Off Service?
The New York Public Services Commission allows Central Hudson to disconnect service for the following reasons:
- At any time during the past 12 months, the customer has failed to pay a bill (or failed to pay a part of a bill)
- The customer hasn't paid amounts due as part of a deferred payment agreement
- The customer hasn't paid a security deposit
- The customer either hasn't paid or has not agreed in writing to pay for electricity service installation/equipment
- The customer has been sent a final disconnection/termination notice no less than two weeks (15 days) before the disconnection date
This last point is important. The New York Public Services Commission requires Central Hudson to provide a final notice of termination or disconnection to the customer, at least 15 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. Central Hudson 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, Central Hudson 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 Central Hudson's main business office is closed for business. They also cannot terminate/disconnect service to any residential customer for failure to pay their bills during a two-week period over Christmas and New Year’s Day.
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. Central Hudson prefers to resolve payment problems before termination is necessary. If your service is scheduled for disconnection, you must have already received a written warning, and it is quite likely that Central Hudson will also have called you before issuing a final notice.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Central Hudson 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 Central Hudson on the weekend or on a holiday, then you should call Central Hudson straight away at 845-452-2700, as this is likely fraudulent.
Central Hudson Bill Payment Options
As a reminder, Central Hudson accepts the following payment options for your bill:
- With cash: at any authorized payment center, or at one of Central Hudson's 13 walk-in office
- 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): Central Hudson, P.O. Box 847812, Boston, MA 02284-7812
- Through your bank account: you can do this online, through your Central Hudson account or through your bank account online, or over the phone by calling Central Hudson at 845-452-2700
- By credit/debit card: you can pay by credit/debit card by calling 1-888-909-4634 at any one of the authorized payment centers. Note that a processing fee will apply.
Keep in mind that Central Hudson 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 Central Hudson if you think that you've been the victim of a scam involving someone impersonating a Central Hudson representative. You may also call your local police department and/or the Federal Trade Commission to report the scam.
Previous Central Hudson Scams
Here is a brief summary of scams involving Central Hudson that have been reported in recent years:
Summer, 2015: Central Hudson issued a warning to its customers after multiple reports of customers being contacted by telephone by individuals claiming to be calling on behalf of Central Hudson, and stating that the customer did not make a deposit for an opt-out program and/or meter change. The caller directed customers to pay their outstanding balance by cash or by an express wire transfer. In this particular scam, the caller also provided a name and a toll-free telephone number for a return call. Central Hudson does not request bill payment in this way.
March & June, 2014: Another scam involved customers receiving a phone call from an 866 number claiming that the customer owed money and their service would be disconnected unless they sent money orders.
Summer, 2013: Central Hudson issued a warning after reports of customers being contacted by telephone by an individual claiming to be with Central Hudson, indicating that their account was past due and directing them to pay their utility bill through a pay-back money card (pre-paid debit). The individuals instructed customers to use cash to purchase the cards from Walmart or local CVS or Rite Aid drug stores, and then to call a specified phone number to provide information about the card.
Summer, 2012: Central Hudson customers were targeted in a nation-wide scam involving a false utility bill assistance program supposedly authorized by President Obama and funded through the Federal Reserve Bank. Scammers asked customers for personal information, such as social security identification numbers, to qualify for the assistance, and then provided them with a fraudulent bank routing number with which to pay their bills. The payments were not applied to the customers' Central Hudson bills, and they faced considerable risks of identity theft.