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MED, police chief warn of new phone scam

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MASSENA - Callers purporting to be from the Massena Electric Department are calling customers and demanding payment to avoid service termination, according to MED Superintendent Andrew McMahon and Massena Police Chief Timmy J. Currier.

In a release issued Wednesday, they said Massena Electric customers have reported over the past few weeks that they are receiving phone calls from individuals identifying themselves as representatives of Massena Electric and demanding immediate payment by the customer to avoid termination of service. These calls are a scam trying to get customers to pay the caller over the phone to avoid termination, they said.

Mr. McMahon and Mr. Currier said that during the calls, which have occurred on a Saturday, a caller identifies himself as a representative of their utility and demands payment in excess of $500 to avoid termination that day. The caller also tells customers that utility employees are out in the field performing terminations and they are scheduled to be terminated in the next two hours unless payment is made using a prepaid money pack card or credit card.

In addition, since amount owed is in excess of $500, the caller tells customer to buy two $500 cards and call them back with card numbers to avoid termination

“These calls are very distressing. This scam is misrepresenting our good name in a scheme that has nothing to do with MED,” Mr. McMahon said.

He said MED does not take payment of any type by phone, and any calls they make regarding late payment of an electric bill would require the customer to come to their offices at 71 E. Hatfield St. to make a payment.

Mr. McMahon said that, by law, they cannot disconnect customers for non-payment on the weekend.

“MED has nothing to do with these predatory calls. Any money given to these solicitors will not be credited on an individual’s bill,” he said. “The fact that there are purposeful and malicious calls in an attempt to mislead and defraud our customers is unnerving. We are pleased that our customers have so far been able to see through these scams.”

The information has been turned over to local law enforcement. Mr. Currier warned citizens to be very careful when taking phone calls.

“Calls of this nature should raise a red flag. Reputable businesses like Massena Electric Department do not do business this way,” he said. “Phone scams and fraud are prevalent today. People should avoid giving any personal or banking information out to anyone over the phone that they do not know and trust.”

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