Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is joining utilities throughout North America to make customers aware of telephone, mail, email and door-to-door/in-person scams that involve criminals posing as utility company representatives and demanding immediate payment or personal information.
The “Utilities United Against Scams” collaboration has designated Nov. 16 as “Utilities United Against Scams Day.” This day will be supported by a week-long campaign, beginning Nov. 14, with information focused on exposing the tricks scammers use to steal from customers, and how customers can protect themselves.
“The safety and security of our customers is the foundation of how we operate, so it’s heartbreaking when you hear about people being affected by these types of scams,” said Deb Affonsa, vice president, PG&E Customer Care. “Awareness is a key part of stopping this type of crime and we are working hard to continue getting the word out to our customers.”
The North American collaborative encourages the public to share these messages to help guard against scam activity.
To date in 2016, PG&E has received more than 2,400 scam reports. Scammers continue to employ increasingly more sophisticated tactics to exploit customers. PG&E continues to work with law enforcement agencies that are conducting investigations as well as supporting ongoing efforts to help educate customers about scams.
Red Flags and How to Protect Yourself
☆ A scammer tells the customer his or her account is past due and services will be disconnected if payment isn’t made through a prepaid cash card - usually within an hour.
☆ PG&E never requires a customer to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection. Customers behind on their bill receive multiple advance disconnection notifications - never a single one an hour before their power is shut off. Customers can make payments online, by phone, through an automatic bank draft, by mail, or in person.
☆ Hang up on suspicious calls. Contact local police on a non-emergency number then call PG&E.
☆ Never dial phone numbers scammers provide or assume caller ID is accurate. Scammers use sophiticated systems where they can mimic caller ID to appear to be a PG&E number.
☆ An in-person scammer wears a hard hat, orange vest, and holds a clip board, then asks to see your utility bill or to be let inside your home.
☆ If someone is at your door claiming to represent PG&E, and is unwilling to show their ID or making you uncomfortable, don’t let them in, and call law enforcement. PG&E employees carry identification and are always willing to show it to you.
☆ Expect to receive an automated call from PG&E 48 hours before a scheduled visit. You may also receive a personal call from a PG&E representative before a visit.
☆ A scammer sends an email that demands immediate payment, asks for financial information, or contains suspicious links.
☆ Beware of emails requesting your personal information. Never click on suspicious links or open attachments that demand immediate payment or financial information.
Customers who suspect or experience fraud, or feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers, can call area authorities and then PG&E at (800) 743-5000.