Atlantic City Electric is urging customers to beware of a scam that has been targeting utility customers across the United States for more than five years.

South Jersey customers have recently reported to Atlantic City Electric that they have been contacted by perpetrators of the “green dot” scam.

The scammers, who target both residential and business customers, call people claiming that they are behind on their account and must make an immediate payment to avoid service termination.

Customers are asked to purchase a prepaid debit card, such as a Green Dot MoneyPak, for a specific amount. Such cards can be purchased at pharmacies, retail chains and convenience stores.

The customer is then directed to call a number and use the card to make a payment. Once the information is provided to the scammer, the funds on the card are removed.

Electric company officials said scammers have become increasingly sophisticated, going to extreme measures to present themselves as official utility representatives. Scammers have gone so far as to replicate utility phone numbers through caller ID, with some even replicating the messaging and prompts provided to customers through their interactive voice response system.

They offer these tips for helping to identify scammers:

If a customer receives a call from someone claiming they are calling to collect a bill payment for Atlantic City Electric, the caller should be able to provide specific information including the account name, account address, account number and current balance.

If the caller cannot provide the information, it is likely the call is not from the electric company. In this case, customers are advised to provide no information, and to call Atlantic City Electric immediately at 800-642-3780.

Customers should never provide Social Security numbers or banking or credit card information by phone unless they have initiated the call, Atlantic Electric said.

Customers should never allow anyone access to their home who claims to be from Atlantic City Electric, or a contractor working for Atlantic City Electric, unless the person has proper identification.

To confirm a visit as official call 800-642-3780.

For information see atlanticcityelectric.com.

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