Following a recent spate of scam phone calls — including one at Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington — the Bristol Police are warning residents to be on alert.
According to reports, and the advisory posted on the Town of Bristol website, the caller claimed that they represented National Grid and demanded payment for a past due bill.
One Newport resident already fell victim to the utility bill phone scam, losing $500 after giving private bank information over the phone.
In the Barrington case, the scammer also tried to get bank account information to make a withdrawal, but RICC employees refused, then contacted police following the call.
The twist on the Bristol scam is that the caller asks the recipient to purchase phone cards and call back with the card numbers to pay the bill over the phone.
National Grid has confirmed that it does not demand payments over the phone — when making collection calls, the utility offers payment options, but does not require immediate payment.
Here's how to avoid getting scammed:
• Remember you should never give out your account information to anyone over the phone or internet;
• Try to verify the caller’s identity as well as the company they represent;
• Screen your call if you have caller ID or an answering system. Blocked or private calls can be a red flag as well as number unknown to you. If you let the call go to voicemail and the call is important, they will leave a message you can return;
• Do not engage with the caller as they will be persistent and threatening. If you find you have answered on these calls, hang up the phone immediately;
• Never send money through a wire transfer or other means unless you are sending to a close friend or family member; and
• Do not feel pressured to give information or send money quickly.
If you feel you have received one of these scam calls, contact the Bristol Police Department at (401) 253-6900, or call National Grid at 1-800-322-3223 to verify your account information.