This New Phone Scam is So Tricky, Even I Fell For It… Almost
A new phone scam directed at specific Hudson Valley residents is able to fool even the savviest of consumers.
I'm an especially suspicious person. I go through most of my day assuming that people are trying to scam or take advantage of me. I never share my zip code or email address when purchasing something in the store, I carefully examine every ATM and gas pump for skimming devices and telemarketers are no match for my expert hanging-up skills.
A new scam, however, caught me off guard because of how specific it is.
I answered the phone yesterday and was greeted by someone who identified himself as a Central Hudson employee. He asked to confirm that I was Mr. Boris and then rattled off my address. At this point, my radar was not going off. The call seemed legit, and the operator sounded like an actual employee.
The reason for the call, it turns out, was to inform me that there was a work order to shut off our power in the afternoon. As someone who never had an unpaid bill, or even sent in a late payment in my life, I immediately assumed there was work being done in the area and Central Hudson was letting me know that power would be off while crews were working on the lines.
Then the scammer began to tell me that the power was being shut off because of an unpaid bill. That's when my radar began going off. I immediately looked at the phone and checked out the caller ID. Quickly Googling the number I was surprised to find out that it was, in fact, Central Hudson's number.
At this point, I became much more attentive to what the caller was saying and realized that he wasn't speaking as professionally as the Central Hudson employees I've chatted with in the past. There was also loud background noises that sounded like many people talking at once. I know from experience that Central Hudson's call center does not sound that chaotic, and calls with their customer service representatives are always very quiet and calm.
It finally dawned on me that this was most likely a scam, so I let out an uncontrollable sigh and then got angry at the caller, telling him "nice try" before hanging up. After a quick call to Central Hudson, a real customer service rep informed me that scammers were "especially busy" today and that they had received many other calls from concerned customers who believed their power was being shut off.
There were several things about this call that were disturbing. The fact that the scammer knew my name and home address, and that the caller ID was spoofed to look like it was coming from Central Hudson. A lot of thought and effort was being put into this scam, unlike many of the other phone schemes that are out there.
While the scammers didn't wind up fooling me, they did a good job of reeling me in and letting my guard down. It angers me to know that there may be many vulnerable people and elderly customers who may not be as suspicious as I am, and could easily fall for a scam like this.
I decided to share this story in hopes that it may save at least one person from being taken advantage by these crafty scammers who have apparently upped their game. So please be careful out there, share this story with someone whom you think might get fooled by something like this and please, always remain skeptical when answering the phone, even if it's from a business that you recognize.
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