SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Pacific Gas and Electric says phone scams targeting their customers are on the rise.
The utility company says some areas have seen twice as many phone calls as previous years.
The calls all follow a same basic formula: the scammer threatens the victim that their power will be shut off unless an immediate payment is made.
PG&E has received several reports in the past weeks that a scammer requires a utility bill be paid 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.
Recent scam attempts have been reported in Marin, Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino and Humboldt Counties.
PG&E also says the scams are becoming more detailed and the scammers sometimes include specific names of customers, and in some cases, guessing general dollar amounts owed. They may also be spoofing their phone numbers to appear to be from 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, or claiming to represent a PG&E initiative to sell a product in order to gain access to their home.
PG&E reminds customers that they will never ask for personal information or credit card information over the phone. You should report any phone calls you receive that might ask for this information.
Customers with concerns about the legitimacy of a call should 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.
For more information, visit www.pge.com/scams.