PG&E customers in Fresno are being victimized by scammers who are demanding immediate payment to prevent a cutoff of utility service, the company said Thursday.
The fraudsters threaten to turn off the customer’s electricity and gas unless they provide “payment” using a pre-paid debit card.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers have become increasingly deceptive and have increased calls, texts, emails, and in-person tactics,” PG&E said in an online post.
Imposters Target Vulnerable Customers
“In fact, there have been more than 2,700 attempted scams reported to PG&E’s customer service line since June 2021 alone,” with Fresno and Bakersfield among the top cities being targeted, the company said.
“Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment. PG&E reminds customers that they should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff.”
The utility said imposters can be convincing and often target seniors, lower-income customers and those with limited English skills. “They also aim their scams at small business owners during busy customer service hours,” PG&E warned.
The company said their representatives would never ask customers to make payments with a pre-paid card, gift card, cryptocurrency or third-party digital payment apps.
“If you receive a call or email that demands immediate payment, please call our customer service line or visit PGE.com to access your account details,” the post said.
Tips for Avoiding Scams
PG&E said other cities with the most reports of fraudulent payment demands in June included San Francisco and Santa Rosa.
“Unfortunately, this number only represents reported scams, and there are countless other additional attempts every day seeking to defraud customers.”
The utility is offering tips for detecting fraudulent payment demands and other potential scams, such as refund or rebate offers and phone number spoofing on the PG&E website.