National “Pay-by-Phone” scam targets customers this holiday season
SAN DIEGO, Dec. 19, 2016 – Today, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) issued a warning about a national scam that continues to target the company’s customers. Known as the “Pay-by-Phone” scam, criminals typically threaten immediate power shut-offs to scare customers to make an immediate payment. The scammers then instruct customers to purchase prepaid debit cards, or wire transfers, and direct them to call another phone number to provide the card information, which allows the thieves to remove the cash value.
“To hear that people are losing thousands of dollars because they fear SDG&E is going to turn off their power is upsetting at any time, but particularly so during the holiday season,” said Scott Crider, vice president of customer services for SDG&E. “We want our customers to know about this scam and protect themselves and their families from becoming a victim. While anyone can be a target, we’ve seen higher instances of scammers targeting small businesses, the elderly and non-native English speakers.”
Customers should protect themselves with these tips:
- If payment to SDG&E is past-due, the company would notify the customer in writing before taking any action to disconnect service. Additionally, the company’s Energy Service Specialists are trained to work with customers to arrange for a payment plan or other payment process.
- Customers should never give anyone who calls and demands payment their credit card information over the phone. Instead, SDG&E recommends that customers should hang up and call SDG&E’s main customer service line at 1-800-411-SDGE.
- There are reports that the scammers are calling with information like addresses and phone numbers which can be obtained through simple internet searches, making it difficult to recognize a call as fake. Customers should protect their information by safely disposing of anything that may have an account number, balance, passwords or other financial information.
SDG&E encourages anyone who has been victim to this scam to report any loss of money to law enforcement agency. Additionally, SDG&E investigates any reported issues in an effort to help protect customers.
SDG&E is an innovative San Diego-based energy company that provides safe, reliable, clean energy to better the lives of the people it serves in San Diego and Southern Orange Counties. More than 4,300 employees work to provide the most reliable and clean energy in the West. The company has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for leadership in addressing climate change, was the first to meet California’s goal of delivering 33 percent of energy from renewable sources, has fueled the adoption of electric vehicles and energy efficiency through unique customer programs, and supports more than 600 non-profit partners. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit SDGENews.com or connect with SDG&E on Twitter (@SDGE), Instagram (@SDGE) and Facebook.