Once again police departments are being inundated with calls as scammers target businesses in Monmouth County, seeking to frighten and intimidate unsuspecting citizens and steal their cash, warns Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
These scammers have recently targeted small businesses, including a salon, gym and a deli, with phone calls, posing as employees of Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L). The scam follows along the same basic line of fear and intimidation: you are advised you are past due on a bill, you are threatened with having your power shut-off, and you are given the opportunity to “pay” your bill within a brief period of time to avoid any embarrassment or work stoppages.
These phone calls have included demands for direct payments using a pre-paid debit card such as a Green Dot or MoneyPak card, reloadable debit cards or gift cards. If you receive a call like this, consider it a red flag that you are dealing with a con-artist and not a genuine representative of a legitimate company.
Prosecutor Gramiccioni reiterated that unfortunately Monmouth County has seen this scam before, but it is necessary to repeat and remind the public that no legitimate business will demand anyone make a payment over the phone using a pre-paid debit card.
Anthony Hurley, JCP&L Vice President of Operations has previously warned that the utility will not call or email to demand immediate payment or threaten imminent shutoff. JCP&L, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, does not demand nor require payment over the phone via specific means, like using Green Dot cards or any other pre-paid debit card.
JCP&L employees typically only visit a home in response to a service request and employees also always carry photo identification, wear uniforms, and drive clearly marked vehicles, Hurley has warned.
Anyone who suspects they have received a scam call should contact their local police department.
JCP&L also urges any customer who has doubts about a call from someone claiming to be from JCP&L, especially one demanding immediate payment, to call JCP&L’s customer service number at 1-800-662-3115.
JCP&L has an informative website to assist consumers with recognizing scams. Please visit https://www.firstenergycorp.com/scam-info