Methuen Police Warn of Past Due Electric Bill Scam

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon.

Methuen police are alerting area residents and business owners to a telephone scam by callers claiming to work for utility provider National Grid and demanding payment on past due balances.

Within the last week, police have received reports that at least three Methuen businesses have fallen victim to the phone scam, costing business owners hundreds of dollars, according to a statement Monday from Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon. Callers threaten customers that their service will be immediately shut-off if they do not receive payment by wire transfer or through a pre-paid card. In some cases, the caller also claims that the resident or business owner has a faulty meter that needs to be replaced for a large fee, which would never be the responsibility of the customer.

"Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in these types of phone scams in which victims send money through wire transfer or on pre-paid cards and the funds are gone forever," Solomon said. "Although these threats can feel intimidating, never send money to anyone you don't know. Hang up the phone and call police immediately."

National Grid has released a statement saying customers should never make payments via gift card, pre-paid card, or money order, according to Solomon.

Other characteristics of the scam, Solomon added, include scammers who may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s social security number and “spoof the National Grid number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s legitimate.” Intended victims may also hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site, Solomon said.

Methuen residents and business owners who receive such calls or concerned they may have fallen victim to a phone scam are asked to contact Methuen police at (978) 983-8698.

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