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With Covid comes a new wave of scams

Posted on November 16, 2020 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Preying on the financial anxiety created by Covid, scammers are demanding bogus PG&E payments online, by telephone, or even in person.

“Scammers are constantly changing their tactics and tricks, so awareness is more important than ever,” said Laurie Giammona, PG&E’s chief customer officer. “If an email, visit to your home or phone call doesn’t feel right, don’t fall for it. Delete it, shut the door or hang up.”

Key reminders: PG&E will never ask for your financial information over the phone or via email. And the utility never takes payment via prepaid debit card, gift card, cryptocurrency, or third-party digital payment mobile apps. 

The ever-trickier scammers are now able to create authentic-looking 800 numbers which appear on your phone display. The numbers don’t lead back to PG&E, but to the scammer.

The actual PG&E number to call and report the fakery:  1-800-743-5000. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers have harassed customers by asking for immediate payment to avoid service disconnection. Another con is to offer a refund or rebate.

 Scammers can be convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, including senior citizens and low-income communities. They also aim their scams at small business owners during busy customer service hours. 

 Signs of a potential scam

  • A threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively demand immediate payment for an alleged past-due bill.
  • Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment.
  • Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds.
  • Refund or rebate offers: Scammers may say that your utility company overbilled you and owes you a refund, or that you are entitled to a rebate.

If a scammer threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service without prior notification, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email, or shut the door. 

Customers with legitimately delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification, typically by mail and included with their regular monthly bill.

 For more information about scams, visit www.pge.com and www.utilitiesunited.org.

 

 



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