Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is alerting customers to be aware of ongoing scam phone calls with those on the other line threatening to shut off power if a payment is not made, according to a press release.
There have been double the number of scam attempts, in some areas, compared to this time last year.
PG&E’s Corporate Security department has received several reports in the past few weeks regarding scammers requesting payment on past due utility bills immediately with a cash card, according to the press release.
“In the past, we’ve seen scammers demanding payment be made using a Green Dot card or Money Pack but now we’re seeing these criminals requesting payment with a gift card,” said Carl Schoenhofer, senior manager of PG&E’s North Valley Division. “This should raise a red flag.”
Another new trend that PG&E is seeing is that the scam is becoming more detailed. Scammers include specific names of customers, and in some cases, guessing general dollar amounts owed. They are also discussing their true phone numbers with a caller ID that says “PG&E” or “Pacific Gas & Electric.”
Other scam phone call tactics include:
Notifying residents that they are eligible for a federal tax refund related to their utility bill.
Trying to sell services related to solar evaluation.
Claiming to represent a PG&E initiative to sell a product in order to gain access to their home.
PG&E offers the following tips to help protect customers from all types of potential scams:
- PG&E will not ask for personal information or a credit card number over the phone. Anyone who has received such a phone call and provided credit card or checking account information should report it immediately to the credit card company or bank and law enforcement.
- Customers with concerns about the legitimacy of a call about a past due bill, service request or request for personal information are encouraged to call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
- Customers should always ask to see identification before allowing anyone claiming to be a PG&E representative insider of their home. PG&E employees always carry their identification and are willing to show it to you.
- If you feel threatened in any way, notify law enforcement.
Anyone who has received a scam phone call can report it by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 or visiting www.pge.com/scams.