FRESNO Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The number of PG&E scams has doubled in the space of a year – prompting Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to work with Utilities United Against Scams to help customers protect themselves from predatory scams.
PG&E officials say that in 2022 they received over 23,000 reports from customers that were targeted by scammers impersonating the company – resulting in a loss of $1.3 million in fraudulent payments made by customers, thinking they were paying their bills.
In 2021 there had just been over 11,000 reports of targeted scams for the year.
According to PG&E, scammers are opportunistic and looking for times when people can be distracted and or stressed. The holiday season can provide these conditions for scammers to strike. They are always looking to target vulnerable people including senior citizens and low-income communities. As well as small businesses during busy customer service hours.
PG&E has some helpful tips for customers to protect themselves and be able to identify possible scammers. They say will never send a single notification to a customer within one hour of service interruption. As well as never ask customers to make payments with a pre-paid debit card, gift card, any type of cryptocurrency, or third-party digital payment mobile application.
Signs of a potential scam include:
- Threat to Disconnect – Scammers may aggressively demand payment for an alleged past-due bill.
- Request for immediate payment – Scammers by instruct customers to purchase a pre-paid card, then call back to supposedly pay a bill.
- Request for a pre-paid card – When the customer calls back, the scammer asks for the card number that gives them instant access to the card’s funds.
- Refund or rebate offers – Scammers may say your utility company overbilled you and owes you a refund, or that you are entitled to a rebate.
It’s important to know that PG&E will never specify how customers should make a bill payment (in fact, bills can be paid online, by phone, by automatic bank draft, by mail, or in person).
If threatened by a potential scammer of immediate disconnection or shutoff of service without prior notification, customers should hang up the phone, delete the e-mail, or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification, typically by mail and it’s included in their regular monthly bill. It’s recommended to sign up for an online account on their website as another safeguard.
Scammers also have the ability to create authentic-looking phone numbers that appear on displays If a customer has any doubts about the authenticity of the call, they should hang up and call PG&E at 1-833-500-SCAM.
For more information about scams visit the PG&E website.