KING CITY — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) warns its customers in King City to protect themselves by increasing their awareness of a telephone scam demanding immediate payment for allegedly past due electricity bills.
Customers who received the call say that the scammer asked them to call a 1-800 number to provide their credit card information in order to keep the power on.
Scammers can be convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, including senior citizens and low-income communities. They also aim their scams at small business owners during busy customer service hours. However, with the right information, customers can learn to detect and report these predatory scams.
Signs of potential scam activity
- Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer his or her bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made, usually within less than an hour.
- Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card 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.
How customers can protect themselves
Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. PG&E does not specify how customers should make a bill payment and offers a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person. PG&E will also never call a customer requesting Social Security or financial information.
If a scammer threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service without prior notification, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email, or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification, typically by mail and included with their regular monthly bill.
If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email, or shut the door. They should then call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud, or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers, should contact local law enforcement authorities.
For more information about scams, visit www.pge.com.