Scammers impersonating PG&E are targeting businesses across the state.
The owner of Evergreen Video in Orcutt received a call from someone claiming to be from PG&E and threatening to turn off power.
Carol Boston says a person claiming to be a PG&E representative asked to speak to the owner of the store.
“He said your bill is late. I’ve been dispatched to come out and turn your power off so you need to call PG&E right now and pay the bill,” said Boston.
She says her account actually was a few days behind, and the amount the caller said they needed was within $20 of how much she owed.
“I called the 1-800 number that he gave me, and I got a message that said you have reached PG&E… If you see any downed power lines, hang up and call 911. So it was the same thing you hear when you call PG&E. It’s got the prompts, press 1, press 2,” said Boston.
She proceeded to purchase a money card at Walgreens worth several hundred dollars after the person on the phone said they couldn’t accept debit or credit cards.
“As soon as I bought the card, I started second guessing and thinking, wait a minute, that doesn’t sound right, so I asked the girl, do you sell a lot of these prepaid cards? And I asked do people use these to pay their utilities, and she said yes, but generally, it’s a scam, and I thought oh my gosh, it’s a scam,” said Boston.
PG&E says scams like this aren’t new.
“Across the state, whether it’s the holidays or what, there has been an increase in incident reports,” said Mark Mesesan, a Communications Representative for PG&E.
The company will notify you by mail if it is going to shut off your power, and it won’t ask for money over the phone unless you are the one calling PG&E.
“PG&E would not call them or email them or show up at their door demanding payment immediately with the threat of a power disconnect,” said Mesesan.
The owner of Evergreen Video hopes this will serve as a warning to other business owners because the man on the phone was so convincing.
If you believe you’ve been a victim of the scan, call the police.
PG&E also has information on its website if you believe you’re part of a scam.