State urges caution over National Grid scams
After receiving more than a dozen complaints from small business owners alerting the Office that they were targets of a billing scam with callers posing as representatives of National Grid, AG Kilmartin is urging RI businesses to be on high alert should they receive a phone call from a person purporting to be from the company.
Business owners have reported that the person calling seeks payment for a past due balance on their utility bill. In some instances, the caller offers to "lower" the amount owed if the customer agrees to make an immediate payment. The caller requests payment be made by a pre-paid debit-like card (available at retail locations) and provides a fraudulent phone number for the business owner to call back with the pre-paid card information. In some instances, the caller provides the location of nearby retail outlets that sell the pre-paid cards.
The phone number the scammers provide to customers is 855-842-4526, which is an automated system that mimics National Grid's iconic tagline "National Grid. Here with you. Here for you," followed by prompts to connect with an operator.
AG Kilmartin confirmed with National Grid that the phone number is not associated with the company and there may be additional phone numbers associated with the scam.
"These outfits are becoming more elaborate in their scam and savvier in finding new and convincing ways to trick consumers and small business owners into thinking they are dealing with an actual National Grid representative. It's important to report it to our office or National Grid if you receive one of these phone calls so we can alert other businesses and consumers before they fall victim," said AG Kilmartin.
Timothy Horan, President and COO of National Grid Rhode Island said, "Protecting our customers from these types of scams is a major priority for National Grid and we're grateful to Attorney General Kilmartin for his vigilance. We want our customers to recognize suspicious activity, report it, and be confident in knowing when they are interacting with our customer service team."