MENDOCINO Co., 1/13/19 — Mendocino residents are no strangers to phone scams, but now there’s yet one more reason to be leery of phone calls: Pacific Gas & Electric has announced a significant increase in the number of scamming attempts, and adds that the scams have become more sophisticated. Many of the scammers claim to require payment for past due bills, and request payment over the phone with a cash or gift card, according to the utility company. Such scams have been reported around the North Coast and the North Bay.
A number of the phone scammers are requesting payment from past due bills, and may have the customer’s name, provide a specific dollar amount for the bill, or display a fake “PG&E” listing on caller ID. However, other scam calls have included offers for new products, solar evaluations, or federal tax refunds. In a statement PG&E reminded customers that the company will not ask for personal information or credit card information over the phone, and that all PG&E employees visiting homes will carry proper identification. Anyone wishing to verify billing information can call PG&E directly at 1-800-743-5000, or get details about the scams at this PG&E webpage. Any suspicious activities should be reported to law enforcement.
Here’s the full announcement from PG&E:
PG&E is Seeing Twice the Number of Scams Targeting Customers by Phone
UKIAH, Calif. – Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) is alerting customers, especially in the North Bay and North Coast, to be aware of ongoing scam phone calls with criminals threatening to shut off power if a payment is not made. There have been double the number of scam attempts, in some areas, compared to this time last year.
PG&E’s Corporate Security department has received several reports in the past few weeks regarding scammers requesting payment on past due utility bills immediately with a cash card.
“In the past, we’ve seen scammers demanding payment be made using a Green Dot card or Money Pack but now we’re seeing these criminals requesting payment with a gift card. This should raise a red flag,” said Kevin Cashman, PG&E Security Investigator for the North Bay and North Coast.
Most recent incidents reported to PG&E have happened in Marin, Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino and Humboldt Counties.
Another new trend that PG&E is seeing is that the scam is becoming more detailed. Scammers include specific names of customers, and in some cases, guessing general dollar amounts owed. They are also disguising their true phone numbers with a caller ID that says “PG&E” or “Pacific Gas & Electric”.
Other scam phone call tactics include:
- Notifying residents that they are eligible for a federal tax refund related to their utility bill;
- Trying to sell services related to solar evaluation; and
- Claiming to represent a PG&E initiative to sell a product in order to gain access to their home.
PG&E offers the following tips to help protect customers from all types of potential scams:
- PG&E will not ask for personal information or a credit card number over the phone. Anyone who has received such a phone call and provided credit card or checking account information should report it immediately to the credit card company or bank and law enforcement.
- Customers with concerns about the legitimacy of a call about a past due bill, service request or request for personal information are encouraged to call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
- Customers should always ask to see identification before allowing anyone claiming to be a PG&E representative inside their home. PG&E employees always carry their identification and are willing to show it to you.
- If you feel threatened in any way, notify local law enforcement immediately.
PG&E takes security seriously and will actively work with law enforcement to help stop any scam victimizing customers. Anyone who has received such a call can report it immediately by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 or visit www.pge.com/scams.