SALINAS — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) warns its customers to protect themselves, their families and businesses by increasing their awareness of potential online and in-person scams. An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the nation’s leading credit rating agencies, scammers take advantage of tax season to trick Californians into giving up their personal and financial information. The IRS saw an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents in the 2016 tax season.
Here in California, recent scams have involved imposters posing as PG&E employees, including:
- In-person scammers pretending to be PG&E utility workers and going door-to-door in PG&E’s service territory in order to gain entry to homes.
- Email scammers sending “phishing” emails to PG&E customers, asking them to make a payment online.
- Phone scammers posing as PG&E customer service representatives and asking for payment information over the phone.
In all cases, PG&E actively works with law enforcement to help stop any scam impacting customers. Anyone who has received a call, email or visit from imposters claiming to be PG&E employees can report it immediately by calling PG&E at 1-800-PGE-5000.
“During tax season, scammers email messages with false tax refund documents. At PG&E, safety and security is our top priority, and we want to ensure our customers know how to recognize a legitimate PG&E contact. Awareness is the best defense, so we are asking our customers to stay alert and contact us if anything seems suspicious,” said Laurie Giammona, senior vice president and chief customer officer.
PG&E offers the following tips to help protect customers from scams:
- Always ask for identification before allowing anyone claiming to be a PG&E representative inside your home. PG&E employees always carry their identification and are always willing to show it to you.
- Remember that if you have an appointment with PG&E, you will receive an automated call within 48 hours prior to a scheduled visit, or a personal call from a PG&E gas service representative prior to a scheduled visit.
- PG&E’s Credit Department will not ask for personal information or a credit card number over the phone.
- If you have concerns about the legitimacy of a phone call about a past due bill, a service request or a request for personal information, hang up and call PG&E at 1-800-PGE-5000.
- Be cautious if you receive an unexpected email that claims to be from PG&E. Do not click on any links or provide any personal information, and call 1-800-PGE-5000 instead.
“Online scammers are getting more and more sophisticated every day. From phishing emails to fake postings on social media, cyber-criminals are constantly finding new ways to separate us from our personal information. At PG&E, we’re asking our customers to practice good cyber-awareness and to call us directly if they receive any suspicious online communications claiming to be from PG&E,” said Karen Austin, senior vice president and chief information officer.