Dozens of energy companies unite to warn customers of ongoing scam
Nearly 100 energy companies from across the United States and Canada have joined together today, November 16, to warn customers of an ongoing pay-by-phone scam continuing to target customers.
By joining forces for Utilities United Against Scams Day, these companies are helping protect customers from the long-running fraud by exposing the tricks scammers use to steal money and sharing tips on how to spot a potential crook.
How does the scam work?
Under this scheme, scammers make unsolicited calls to customers falsely claiming to represent San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and demanding immediate payment to avoid service disconnection. Some scammers even use technology that allows them to “spoof” caller ID, so that the call displays as coming from SDG&E.
Typically, the criminals demand payment in a very short timeframe using a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The criminals have shown a pattern of targeting vulnerable demographics, including senior citizens and non-native English speakers.
How can I spot a scammer?
Although the techniques employed by the scammers are very convincing, there are ways to spot a scam call when it comes in. The main giveaway is demand for immediate payment by prepaid debit card or money order, but there are other signs that can help you avoid falling victim to the fraud:
- The caller demands payment within a short window of time—typically an hour—and threatens service shutoff if not received.
- The caller instructs you to send money via wire transfer or purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card at a retail store and call back a specific phone number to make the payment.
- The scammer asks for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds, and are near always non-refundable.
SDG&E customer service agents are trained to work with customers to arrange for a payment plan or other payment process, and will never call and demand immediate payment or financial information.
How do I protect myself?
Energy companies nationwide are working with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute scammers, but there are ways you can avoid ever suffering a loss from the scheme:
- Be aware of the scam and the technology thieves are using, like caller ID spoofing.
- Never provide personal information like address, date of birth or social security number over the phone unless you’ve initiated the call.
- Never wire money to someone you don’t know.
- If you receive a call that makes you at all suspicious or uncomfortable, hang up and call SDG&E on our main customer service line at 800-411-7343. Customers can also enroll in My Account to instantly and securely verify account balances.
What if a scammer calls me?
SDG&E asks customers who suspect they were the target of a scam attempt or have been victim to the fraud report the incident to local law enforcement and SDG&E at 800-411-7343. If payment was made through a pre-paid debit card, the incident should also be reported to the company that issued the card. SDG&E investigates all reported scams in an effort to protect our customers.