On Thursday, Feb. 22, an Ahwahnee resident, Brenda Eppler, notified the Sierra Star that she had been contacted by a PG& E scammer.
After receiving a call from what appeared to be a PG&E number on her caller ID she was told her account was past due and her power would be shut off.
Eppler immediately logged into her account to find she was paid to date. She held the caller on the line to hear their scam. The caller knew the name of her PG&E foreman and claimed they were calling from his truck. The caller told her they would not turn her power off if she went to CVS to pay them through Green Dot (a pre-paid debit card for purchase) in one hour. Their account number was 917246T06.
Eppler immediately contacted authorities, CVS and PG&E to report the incident.
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.