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Santa Barbara Police warn residents about gas and electric utility scam

Posted at 8:35 AM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 11:39:00-04

The Santa Barbara Police Department is warning residents of a recent scam targeting Santa Barbara Gas and Electric Utility customers.

Police say they have recently received reports about a scam where the fraudulent caller claimed to be a representative from the local utility, like Southern California Edison or SoCal Gas.

The Santa Barbara Police Department wants to remind everybody to be cautious of various phone and online scams that occur daily. Police say these scams are often internationally based but use software to make it look like they are calling from an 805 area code, also known as spoofing.

These scam artists often prey on unsuspecting citizens, are persistent with their questions and threats, which can vary in levels of sophistication as scammers commonly capitalize on confusion.

In this case, the fraudulent caller posed as a utility "collection" employee and threaten to disconnect utility service unless a payment was made immediately using a pre-paid cash card.

Police want residents to remember the following:
· The utility company will never call to demand immediate payment with the threat of service disconnection
· The utility company does not accept pre-paid cash cards for bill payments
· The utility company will never demand cash in person
· The utility company will never call you to confirm that you are not home, as a means to access your utility
· Never provide your utility bill information to anyone you don't know
· Never provide anyone your on-line utility login credentials
· Never use the call-back number provided by an unknown caller to verify billing information

If you are concerned you are victim of a scam, or concerned for a family member or friend, there are various resources available to assist in prevention and federal investigations. The Federal Trade Commission and Federal Bureau of Investigations have this website to send complaints of scams and/or learn further about various other scams currently being tracked.