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March 20. 2014 8:54PM

Candia gas station owner recounts PSNH bill scam

CANDIA — Denise Cresta was concerned when she received a phone call informing her that her Candia DC Mobil gas station and convenience store would soon lose power.

She was troubled when the person on the line asked her to go to Walgreens or Walmart and pick up prepaid credit cards to pay a past due bill.

What bothered Cresta the most was that the person knew the precise amount of her last payment to Public Service of New Hampshire.

“I think it’s important to let people know this is going on,” Cresta said.

She said the person spoke with a heavy foreign accent.

“He had some information that first led me to believe he was legitimate," she said. "I mean, the check amount he provided was right, so that was kind of strange, but I thought it odd when he said I needed to go get cash cards, and only a certain type of card, to submit a payment.”

Cresta contacted Candia police, who are investigating the incident along with several similar scam reports.

PSNH this year has issued two news releases warning customers of email and phone scams.

The first involves situations almost identical to Cresta’s, where "Green Dot" or "Vanilla" prepaid cards are requested to prevent a person’s residential or business electricity from being shut off.

“If a customer gets a call of this nature, they can verify that it is PSNH by asking for some basic information about their account. Our customer service representatives will always be able to provide the name on the account, the account address, and the exact past due balance,” said Penni Conner, chief customer officer at Northeast Utilities, parent company of PSNH. “If the caller cannot provide that information, the call is not from one of our employees.”

Customers who are scheduled to have their power disconnected always receive a written notice from PSNH that includes steps to take to maintain service.

Any inquiries not consistent with that procedure likely are fraudulent, Conner said.“In this case, customers should not provide any type of payment or financial information and should call customer service immediately at 1-800-662-7764, and local law enforcement, to report the incident,” Conner said.

Account status and past-due balances are also available though www.psnh.com.PSNH also warns of an email notification from a suspicious address referencing a customer’s electronic bill.Those who click an email link provided in the email download a virus into their computer which compromises their identity, including debit and/or credit card information.

The effort reportedly targets utility customers nationwide.Additional information on identity theft and ongoing scams is available at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

roconnor@newstote.com


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