Phone scams usually prey on the technologically naive, but a sophisticated group of Hudson Valley criminals may be difficult to recognize until it's too late.

Central Hudson says that an especially deceptive new scam has been tricking customers into giving up payment information. Customers are being called and notified that their service is being disconnected unless payment is immediately received. Instead of asking for payment information over the phone, the customer is given a local or toll-free number to call back and make arrangements to pay off the balance.

After calling back the legitimate-looking number, customers hear the familiar automated phone message from Central Hudson. Thinking that its safe to continue, the victim then gives up payment information to a scammer.

The reason this scam is so effective is because the criminals are using an actual copy of the real Central Hudson automated phone message. Unless a customer checks the number before calling, it's almost impossible to realize that they're not actually calling the utility company.

Central Hudson says that the scammers specifically ask for a store-bought debit card or a money order to pay off the balance, something that the utility company says they would never do.

If you receive one of these calls, you're asked to contact Central Hudson directly at 845-452-2700 or 1-800-527-2714 to confirm that the call did, in fact, come from them and not a scammer.

Central Hudson has requested customers to share this story with their friends and family members and spread the word before more people are victimized. More information on this scam is available on Central Hudson's "Scam Central" section of their website.