Utility Scammers Are Back at It: Here’s What You Need to Know

Utility Scammers Are Back at It: Here’s What You Need to Know

There is a new wave of scammers targeting our customers, and they are using the same old tactic: they threaten to turn off your power unless you offer up immediate payment for a past-due bill.

The uptick we are seeing is troubling because some of the scammers are targeting elderly SDG&E customers who are especially vulnerable, such as those who require electricity to meet critical medical needs.

The current tactics used by scammers include impersonating SDG&E’s billing department and asking for payment using Green Dot MoneyPak, a way of sending cash via prepaid or bank debit cards. SDG&E does not ask customers to pay using methods such as Green Dot MoneyPak.

Tactics Happening Now

One scam that is currently active targets seniors, some of whom rely on assisted oxygen therapy powered by electricity. Scammers convince them to use Green Dot MoneyPak to load prepaid or bank debit cards at grocery stores. Victims are told to pay by this method in order to avoid service disconnection. It can be especially confusing for victims, as the phone number scammers are currently using is a 1-800 number (1-800-262-3917) with a recorded message and menu options that mimic SDG&E’s official customer service line, which is 1-800-411-7343. When victims call this number, they hear a recorded message that tells them they are calling SDG&E’s business line. They are given different menu options, including one to pay their bill or to report a gas leak or power outage.

If scammers do not get you on the phone directly, they may leave you an automated message like this:

“Hi, this is an automated message from San Diego Gas and Electric Billing Department. This call is to inform you that your power will get disconnected in 30 minutes due to a pending balance on the account. Please call the direct billing department number at 1-800-262-3917 to avoid power disconnection again the number is 1-800-262-3917."

Bottom Line

SDG&E will never proactively contact customers requesting their credit card, banking or other financial information or threaten immediate disconnection. Even if you have a past-due balance that needs to be paid, we will always provide past-due notices in writing before shutting off service and offer payment plan options. Currently, due to the financial impact the coronavirus is having on customers who have been laid-off or seen their hours cut back, we are suspending service disconnections for nonpayment until further notice. More details here.

If you are a caretaker for an older adult or have elderly relatives or friends, please warn them about utility scams and urge them to follow the tips below to avoid becoming a victim.

SDG&E will NOT:

  • Call a customer to proactively ask for payment information during the call. Customers may receive communications directing them to pay their bill via their MyAccount at sdge.com, use the Billmatrix system, or to call and use the automated pay-by-phone option at 1-800-411-7343.
  • Request that a customer use pre-paid debit cards for payments or cryptocurrencies (i.e. Bitcoin) to pay their bill.
  • Send emails with an online payment method with a QR code.

Hang up!

  • If a caller claims to work for SDG&E and asks for payment over the phone, it is a scam.
  • Only provide financial information by telephone if you made the call.
  • Hang up and call us directly at 1-800-411-7343 if you want to verify information about your account. You can also view your account status, including bills and payments, through our mobile app or via sdge.com/myaccount.

Don’t be the next victim

Criminals work year-round to come up with new ways to defraud people. We intend to work harder to make sure our customers know what to do if they are targeted, especially during times of uncertainty and crises like what we are going through right now.

If you believe you might have been a victim of fraud, please call us immediately at 1-800-411-7343 to report it. You can also follow these additional tips to avoid becoming a victim of utility scams.