Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is sharing tips on how customers can recognize and protect themselves against utility scams.
Scam calls have increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with scammers intending to aim at those who might be stressed, distracted or vulnerable.
So far in 2022, PG&E received more than 7,200 reports regarding customers who were targeted by utility scams. This number has yet to surpass the total of 2021 with 11,000 reports, but it is well on its way. The company reported that customers lost more than $600,000 to scammers in 2021.
"Protecting yourself from falling victim to a scam is as simple as hanging up the phone," PG&E Vice President of Residential Services and Digital Channels Chris Zenner said. "Remember, PG&E will never ask you for your financial information over the phone or via email nor will we request payment via pre-paid debit cards or other payment services like Zelle."
PG&E released a list to help customers determine the signs of a potential utility scam:
- Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively demand immediate payment for an alleged past-due bill.
- Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card and then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment.
- Request for prepaid 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.
- Refund or rebate offers: Scammers may say that the customer's utility company overbilled and owes a refund or rebate.
Customers can look to protect themselves by not responding back to those pretending to be a part of PG&E. If a customer has doubts about if they're a scammer or not, they can hang up and call PG&E at 1-833-500-SCAM.
PG&E recommends customers create an online account at pge.com to help keep track of their payments in case of a scenario where they would need to reassure if they're past due based on a scam call.
Those who suspect to have been victims of fraud or who feel they were threatened during contact with a scammer should contact local law enforcement. For more information regarding utility scams, visit pge.com/scams[pge.com].