National Grid Scams: How to Detect Them...and Avoid Them
Unfortunately, scams involving National Grid are a recurring problem. Have you been a victim of fraud involving National Grid? Here we explain some of the common types of scams that con artists and scammers use to fool National Grid customers, so that you can stay safe.
Common National Grid Scams
Most types of scams involving National Grid customers tend to have similar characteristics:
- The scams target small businesses or vulnerable households in the National Grid service area
- National Grid customers receive calls from people posing as National Grid employees threatening them of impending service disconnection if they don't pay money immediately
- National Grid impersonators 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 National Grid 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 National Grid.
- Always ask for identification: all National Grid employees should have company photo identification cards. If you are approached in person by someone claiming to represent National Grid, ask to see their ID. Any contractor doing work for National Grid is also required to carry a National Grid ID. Most (but not all) National Grid employees also travel in clearly marked National Grid vehicles when providing service to residences and businesses.
You can verify a phone call from National Grid by asking the representative to provide the last five digits of your National Grid account number (make sure to have this handy with you!)
- 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 National Grid 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 National Grid representative, tell them to wait outside, and call National Grid customer service to confirm their identification
- National Grid's customer service numbers are 1-800-642-4272 for Upstate New York, 718-643-4050 for Metro New York, and 1-800-930-5003 for Long Island and the Rockaways. Be wary of any calls from people claiming to be from National Grid that do not come from these numbers
If you receive a visit or a phone call from someone claiming to be from National Grid but who you don't trust, call the appropriate National Grid customer service number for your area. If you think it is an emergency, call 9-1-1
Avoiding National Grid Phone Scams
You can avoid falling for a phone scam from someone claiming to be calling from National Grid if you remember these tips.
Verify the identity of the caller: National Grid 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 National Grid customer service at 1-800-642-4272 for upstate New York, 718-643-4050 for customers in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, or 1-800-930-5003 for the Rockway Peninsula.
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
Know when National Grid might call you: National Grid 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 direct 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 National Grid's disconnection process: National Grid 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 National Grid 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 National Grid
- If you receive a visit from a National Grid employee who you have doubts about, do not let them into your home until you have first called National Grid to confirm their identity.
- Know why National Grid might visit you: National Grid does not 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: National Grid's Disconnection Process
Many scammers contact National Grid 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, National Grid - 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 National Grid Shut Off Service?
The New York Public Services Commission allows National Grid 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 National Grid 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. National Grid 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, National Grid 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 National Grid'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. National Grid 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 National Grid will also have called you before issuing a final notice.
Another thing to keep in mind is that National Grid 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 National Grid on the weekend or on a holiday, then you should call National Grid straight away (at the appropriate customer service number), as this is likely fraudulent.
National Grid Bill Payment Options
As a reminder, National Grid accepts the following payment options for your bill:
- With cash: at any authorized payment center within the National Grid 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): Electricity and Gas payments, National Grid, P.O. Box 11742, Newark, NJ 07101-4742. Checks should be made out to "Electricity and Gas payments"
- Through your bank account: you can do this online, through your National Grid My Account, or over the phone by calling the appropriate National Grid customer service number for your area, or through your online bank account.
- By credit/debit card: you can pay by credit/debit card at any one of the authorized payment centers, or online using the secure third party service, SpeedyPay by Western Union. The website for SpeedyPay is https://paynow7.speedpay.com/NationalGrid/Index.asp
Keep in mind that National Grid 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 National Grid if you think that you've been the victim of a scam involving someone impersonating a National Grid representative. You may also call your local police department to report the scam.
Previous National Grid Scams
Here is a short summary of recent scams targeting National Grid customers.
False disconnection notices: This happened during late 2014-early 2015, and was reported again in summer 2015. National Grid customers were contacted over the phone or at the door by scammers posing as National Grid employees threatening imminent shutoff for electricity and/or gas service unless customers paid immediately. Customers were told to make the payment via a pre-paid debit card and provide the account number to the scammer who would then redeem the card. Some customers reported that the number they were called from appeared as a National Grid number. Pre-paid debit cards are not an accepted form of payment for National Grid, and the utility will never demand them. Find out more about the procedure for service shutoff that National Grid is required to follow.
False equipment inspections: This scam was reported in early 2015. Con artists tried to enter National Grid customers' homes and businesses and gain access to account information by posing as National Grid employees going door-to-door for home energy goods and services. Customers reported that these people told them they must inspect natural gas equipment, carbon monoxide detectors or other safety equipment for a fee. National Grid does not offer home services.
Bill inspections and illegal switching: This is a recurring scam that has been reported in upstate New York as early as 2009, and again in 2012. National Grid customers reported visits from people claiming to be National Grid employees asking to see their bills. They were then switched to a new service provider without realizing it or providing their consent. While customers in National Grid's service area have the possibility of changing their energy services company (ESCO), switching providers without customers' consent is illegal.
Meter inspections and home theft: Other customers have reported people from National Grid asking to inspect their meter. When customers accompanied the false National Grid into their homes, an accomplice entered the home and removed items of value before the customer realized it.