Local Resident Nearly Scammed by Fake JCP&L Agent

A local resident was nearly scammed by a fake JCP&L representative, but luckily, he knew how to protect himself.

The resident, who realized it was a scam and played along, told TLS the conversation went as follows:

9:25am:

Call from 732-456-7255.

Scammers: Hi, is this <name>? I am calling from JCP&L Notifications Department. We have received a work order to disconnect you electric services.

Me: Why? My account is up to date!

Scammers: You will need to reach out to the Billings Department at 800-658-8064 and clear up any issues.

I called the 800 #. They copied the JCP&L greeting and it sounds very legit.

Billing Dept: Good morning, JCP&L billing dept, how may I help you?

ME: I just receive a call that my service will be disconnected. But it’s up to date?!

Billing Dept: Our records show you have an outstanding balance of $673.50.

ME: Can I pay by credit card?

Billing: No. You can only pay cash using one of our many kiosks. When you’re there with cash in hand, we will send you a special account QR code to scan. That will link to your account. This must be done within the next 20 minutes or your service will be disconnected! We will open an investigation and if you over paid in error, we will reimburse you.

He told me the closest kiosk is at 2796 Hooper Ave, Brick. That’s a convenience store with a bitcoin ATM machine.

Here is why this scam is well executed.

1. The first guy had me call the 800 # that sounded exactly like I’m calling JCP&L.
2. The Billing Dept guy was able to look up my service address (Home) by my cell phone number. (google)
3. He only asked me for $673.50, not thousands of dollars.
4. He assured me that he’ll reimburse if this payment is in error.
5. Keep me on the phone. Do not hang up. I will help you. I want to make sure that the funds credit and satisfy you account and that your service is not disconnected. If you hang up then I can’t guarantee you the fund get to YOUR account.

Here are some flags indicating it’s a scam:

1. I can’t pay with cc. Only cash. This is the biggest give away.
2. I was being led to a convenience store with a bitcoin ATM machine.
3. He did not allow me to hang up. He may be afraid I’ll call someone.
4. Rush! Time is of the essence.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. From JCP&L:

    The facts:

    If your account is past due, you will receive a written notice of your account status, with instructions on how to avoid disconnection of service.
    While our representative may call a customer whose bill is in arrears in order to remind them that a payment is due, the representative would explain how a payment can be made using our established payment options. They will not demand payment over the phone, in person, or at a particular physical location.

    See more here: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/help/safety/scam-info/known-scams.html

  2. Very common. I get them all the time. Can’t really see someone falling for it though… they are so clearly a scam.

    Really lots of fun to string them along for a while… pretend you’re driving and all that. Just keep them on the line for a really long time and have fun with it.

  3. More important info from JCP&L: Important Safety Reminders
    Customers who are behind on their accounts receive written notices of a possible disconnection and how to prevent it. Our representatives will not call or email to demand immediate payment to avoid a same-day shutoff.
    Scammers often use Caller ID spoofing software to misrepresent the source of a phone call to further mislead and confuse their targets. Call-back numbers provided by these criminals often use greetings and hold messages that mimic legitimate businesses. If you have any doubts about the status of your electric service, call your utility company using the customer service phone number on our website to ask about your account.
    FirstEnergy employees do not contact customers to request sensitive information such as social security numbers or bank account information.
    While FirstEnergy representatives oftentimes make courtesy calls to customers to remind them about an outstanding balance, they would explain how a payment can be made using the established payment options. We never require you to purchase a pre-paid money card as the only acceptable means of payment.
    FirstEnergy field collectors working in New Jersey, Maryland and Ohio – carrying company-issued photo identification – will offer customers with past-due accounts the opportunity to pay their bill in person before shutting them off.
    Do not allow anyone claiming to be a utility employee into your home unless you scheduled an appointment and the employee has provided proper identification.
    FirstEnergy utility employees always carry photo identification.
    Our utilities offer a wide array of approved billing and payment options. Only send your payments to your FirstEnergy operating company, and never use a payment account provided to you by an unknown individual.
    Our alert services can help you keep track of the amount and timing of your bill, and our eBill payment option can help ensure your account is always paid on time.

    See more here: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/help/safety/scam-info.html

  4. There is no scenario where you need to pay cash to any entity whether civilian or government due to an unpaid bill, also none of these entities call you on your phone, they send mail, basically the only guy you may have to pay cash is the repairman in your home. None of these entities need you to enable them to access your accounts, they have all access to all accounts.

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