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Sullivan COunty Sheriff Warns Of The Return Of The Utility Scam

scamnSullivan County Sheriff Michael Schiff is warning business owners about a repeat scam that has been attempted over the past few days.

Callers claiming to be from New York State Gas and Electric (NYSEG) or from Orange and Rockland Utilities (O&R) are contacting businesses claiming that there is an overdue electric bill and threatening to cut off the power if the bill is not paid immediately. The businesses are then directed by the scammers to either provide a credit card number, obtain a prepaid debit card or send money via Western Union.

The scammers are so sophisticated that they may ask for a specific business owner by name and display the utility company’s phone number on caller ID.

“We seem to get reports about this type of activity around the winter holidays”, said Sheriff Michael Schiff.

“The scammers target businesses who know their livelihood could be ruined if the electric is turned off”.

The Sheriff said the scammers are typically aggressive and sometimes “downright nasty or threatening”.

Citizens are instructed to hang up immediately if they receive such a phone call. They can then call the utility company at the telephone number that is included on the monthly bill or from a listing in a phonebook or the internet to see if they really owe money.

“Do not call back a number provided by the scammer’, said the Sheriff.

The last wave of “utility scam” phone calls hit Sullivan County in December of 2014.

They are believed to have originated overseas. Citizens are reminded stay vigilant and never provide a credit card number or personal information to strangers who call you over the phone.

Additionally, you should never send money to anyone you have never met via Western Union.

(YWN Sullivan County Newsroom)

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