National Grid warns about a phone scam in which callers promise customers refunds or discounts and try to obtain their bank account information.

The scam is especially problematic during the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused many people financial stress, the company said.

According to the energy provider, this is how the scam works:

Customers receive a call from a phone number that appears to be from a nearby town or even the neighborhood where they live. When customers answer the phone, a recorded message tells them they have been overbilled and are owed refunds or discounts on their utility bills.

The customers are instructed to press 1 to learn more about the refund or discount. They are then transferred to a live person, who claims to be working for the utility and begins probing for personal information, which may include a zip code and the customer’s utility bill account number.

The imposter eventually tries to have the customer provide bank account or other personal or financial information.

“Divulging this level of information can lead to identity theft or customers having their bank accounts accessed,” National Grid says.

The company says scammers have become increasingly sophisticated in replicating National Grid’s recorded messaging and directions for phone prompts, making it harder to differentiate an actual National Grid phone call from an imposter’s call.

Similar scams have been reported across the U.S. by other utilities, the company says.

Customers who have been victimized by the scam should contact National Grid by using the toll-free telephone numbers listed on their billing statements, the company said.

National Grid offers the following advice to customers to protect against such scams:

• Never give out personal or financial information to someone you cannot identify.

• Never provide your account information to any caller. National Grid representatives who call you will know your account number.

• Verify that you are speaking with a National Grid representative by asking the caller to provide the last five digits of your National Grid account number.

• If the caller does not know your account number, hang up the phone.

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