Criminals impersonating SDG&E work year-round to come up with new ways to defraud people, and recently we’ve noticed a spike in scammers targeting our customers. These criminals threaten to turn power off if their victims don’t make an immediate payment.
In one recent case reported by 10News, a pastor with an East County church received multiple calls and voicemails from a 1-800 number that he thought was from SDG&E. When the pastor called back, he was told that the only way to avoid losing service was to make immediate payment with prepaid cards or a dispatcher would go out to turn off power within 30 minutes.
What you need to know is that SDG&E will never do that. We never proactively contact customers to get their credit card, banking or other financial information over the phone, nor would we ever send out our employees to go door to door to ask for immediate payment.
Even if you have a past-due balance that needs to be paid, remember we will always provide past-due notices in writing before shutting off service. And we have programs in place to work out payment arrangements with customers who are struggling financially.
Please follow these tips to avoid becoming a victim of utility scams.
Criminals who impersonate utility companies such as SDG&E often threaten to take immediate and drastic actions, such as shutting off power, as a way to extract money from victims. If you receive a phone call from a person claiming to work for SDG&E and the caller asks for payment over the phone, it is a scam. Hang up the phone.
Imposters at Your Door
Next time someone claiming to work for SDG&E seeks to enter your home or business, check to make sure they are wearing a real SDG&E uniform and ask them to show you their company identification card. Look to ensure that they arrived in a SDG&E-marked company vehicle. If you are still suspicious, please call SDG&E at 1-800-411-7343.
Scams Involving CryptoCurrencies and Prepaid cards
Some scammers have reached out to our customers via email and cell phone to threaten service shutoff if they don’t make immediate payments using cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.
In this scam, the con artist calls the victim on the phone and then emails him an online payment method, which features SDG&E’s logo and a QR code (akin to a bar code). When you scan the code with a QR code reader, it takes you to a specific web page to make payment with prepaid debit cards. The customer is directed to buy Bitcoin with GreenDot prepaid debit cards, and then enter the card numbers on the payment web page.
One of the especially convincing techniques that con artists use is known as caller ID spoofing. This technique involves the caller disguising their real identify by deliberately falsifying the information being transmitted to your caller ID. Usually, the caller alters the caller ID information to make it look like someone legitimate is calling. For example, in the case of utility scams, the criminals would make it look like SDG&E is calling.
Text Message and Mobile App Scams
Some scammers have begun to solicit money from customers via mobile devices. Mobile apps and text messaging make it easier than ever for criminals to demand and collect payment. Mobile payment apps are convenient, and busy or distracted customers can fall prey to scams.
Don’t be the Next Victim
New scams arise every day. Arm yourself with information by visiting sdge.com/avoid-scams so you don’t become the next victim. If you believe you might have been a victim of fraud, please call us immediately at 800-411-7343 to report it.