FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Thousands of PG&E customers have been scammed, losing about $1.3 million in 2022. According to PG&E, there were over 23,000 scams reported to the company, compared to 11,000 scam reports in 2021.
The dramatic increase is why PG&E is joining the Utilities United Against Scams this year for Utility Scam Awareness on November 16.
“The scammers have no heart,” said PG&E’s Denny Boyles. “You have to remember that. They are out for your money.”
In one scam, the scammers call customers and tell them the bill is past due. The scammer threatens if the person doesn’t pay right away, their power will be shut off.
“If something seems too bad to be true then it probably is too bad to be true,” said Boyles. “PG&E is not going to call you and say you need to make a payment in the next two hours or we are going to turn your service off.”
Boyles said PG&E will never threaten immediate shut off in exchange for money.
Instead, the utility will send multiple letter notices including a 48-hour notice and will work with the customer to work out a payment plan, and available assistance.
“That demand for immediate payment is not going to happen,” said Boyles.
Boyles said in some cases, scammers have stolen the customer’s mail and used the account number to gain the person’s trust.
Do not be fooled, and look out for red flags, like payment through prepaid gift cards.
“That seems to be the most prevalent form of payment that these scammers are looking for because unfortunately, it is very hard for the customers to get their money back if not impossible for them to get their money back when they use these prepaid cards,” said Boyles.
If you are unsure or something seems off, Boyles said to hang up and call the utility company directly.