A Housatonic woman told police she lost $700 to someone pretending to work for National Grid after they threatened to cut off her electricity if she didn’t pay up right away.
According to a caller who looked to be using a company phone number, a National Grid worker was on his way to turn off the power and encouraged her to remove the money from her bank account.
This narrative, logged by police on May 11, is just one of various scams meant to separate people from their money, though common enough that National Grid has an alert about it on its website.
Customers are reminded that National Grid does not threaten rapid service termination and does not accept payments via wire transfers or prepaid credit cards.
National Grid also claims that if an account is current, there will be no demand for payment, and that robocalls suggesting future reductions are bogus.
Police see enough of these scams, said Great Barrington Police Chief Paul Storti, that the department provides information on its website about how residents can protect themselves from this type of theft.
If you’re unsure or suspicious, call us, Storti said, adding that “99.9 percent it’s a scam.”
He also warned of those instances where something “sounds too good to be true,” in which case, it probably is.
Storti said thieves threatening to cut off service is a frequent trick, and “there are new ones developing continuously.”
The resident who reported the incident to police said she had received text messages “with barcodes” for paying the crooks.
According to Truecaller, an app that filters spam calls, Americans lost roughly $40 billion last year as a result of these types of “phishing” scams. The Federal Trade Commission recorded fraud damages of about $8.8 billion.
Other scams, according to National Grid, involve somebody physically approaching them, contacting them via email, and attempting to “lure recipients into clicking on a link, visiting a malicious website, and revealing account information.”
The FTC also has resources about this growing form of theft.
“A call from your gas, electric, or water company threatening to immediately turn off your service is probably a scam,” the FTC website says.
It also states that if one has lost money, there are ways to recover it back. Most of the time, one can notify the bank or a payment service like Venmo that the transaction was fraudulent and request that it be reversed.
However, it is more difficult with cash and cryptocurrency. With cryptocurrencies, one can request that the company that sent the money reverse the transaction. You can also request that the US Postal Service intercept a package containing cash.