Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds businesses and other customers to be aware of phone scams that are occurring in the Chico area.
PG&E customers have reported telephone scams with calls that falsely show PG&E’s phone number (1-800-743-5000) on the caller ID. Or, in some cases, the caller may falsely claim to represent PG&E.
Here are some signs of potential scam activity:
· Threatening to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer that his or her bill is past due and that service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within less than an hour.
· Request for immediate payment with a prepaid card: Scammers may instruct the customer to make an immediate bill payment through a prepaid cash card, PayPal or a Green Dot card. When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds.
Selling a service: Trying to sell a service such as a solar evaluation, or claiming to represent a PG&E initiative so they can sell a product or gain entrance to your home.
Be aware that scammers can disguise their true phone numbers or simply claim to be from PG&E. PG&E is not making these calls. We never ask for your financial information over the phone. False financial requests like this should be treated as scams. The PG&E Corporate Security Department and the authorities are investigating all reported scams.
If you have doubts about an incoming call from PG&E, hang up and call the PG&E Customer Service number: 1-833-500-SCAM (1-833-500-7226).
Scammers often aim their scams at senior citizens, low-income communities and small business owners. But, with the right information, PG&E customers can learn to detect, avoid and report these predatory scams.
“Falling victim to a scam can seriously harm our customers. If customers get a call, a visit or an email that just doesn’t seem right, they need to let PG&E and law enforcement know,” said Carl Schoenhofer, senior manager of PG&E’s North Valley Division.
More than 100 companies across North America have joined together in a consortium, Utilities United Against Scams, to warn customers. In 2017, the organization received reports from more than 15,000 people who lost money to the imposters.
How Customers Can Protect Themselves
Here’s how customers can protect themselves:
· Never use prepaid card to pay a bill: Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. PG&E does not specify how customers should make a bill payment and offers a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
Ask for identification: Always ask for identification before allowing anyone claiming to be a PG&E representative inside your home. PG&E employees always carry their identification and are always willing to show it to you.
· Ignore the scammers: If a scammer threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service without prior notification, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification, typically by mail and included with their regular monthly bill.
· Contact PG&E or 911: If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email, or shut the door. They should then call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.
· File report with local law enforcement: Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud, or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers, should contact local law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is also a good source of information about how to protect personal information.
For more information about scams, visit www.pge.com/scams.