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PG&E to Customers: Beware of Scammers Taking Advantage of COVID-19 Fears

Post Date:03/25/2020 9:35 AM

PG&E to Customers: Beware of Scammers Taking Advantage of COVID-19 Fears

Among Other Scams, Perpetrators Using “Spoofing” Technique to Simulate PG&E Phone Numbers

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— During the COVID-19 outbreak, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is alerting customers to be aware of potential scam phone calls or emails threatening to shut off power if a payment is not made.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, PG&E’s Corporate Security department has received several reports regarding scammers requesting payment on past due utility bills immediately with a debit card. PG&E has also seen an increase in “spoofing,” which is when the incoming call appears to come from a PG&E telephone number.

“It’s alarming that people are trying to capitalize on the pandemic and people’s fears. Unfortunately, that’s the reality with scammers. We’ve seen a steady stream of scam calls recently and are reminding customers that PG&E will never ask for personal information or a credit card number over the phone,” said James Murphy, Senior Director, Corporate Security at PG&E.

Last week, PG&E announced that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has voluntarily implemented a moratorium on service disconnections for non-payment, effective immediately. This suspension applies to both residential and commercial customers and will remain in effect until further notice. Customers should assume that any threat related to a disruption in service for non-payment is a scam. Earlier in the year, PG&E started seeing a new scam trend with the request becoming more detailed. Scammers include specific names of customers, and in some cases, guessing general dollar amounts owed. They are also disguising their true phone numbers with a caller ID that says “PG&E” or “Pacific Gas & Electric.” Other scam phone call tactics include:

• Notifying residents that they are eligible for a federal tax refund related to their utility bill
• Trying to sell services related to solar evaluation
• Claiming to represent a PG&E initiative to sell a product in order to gain access to their home

PG&E offers the following tips to help protect customers from all types of potential scams:

• PG&E’s Credit Department will not ask for personal information or a credit card number over the phone. Anyone who has received such a phone call and provided credit card or checking account information should report it immediately to the credit card company or bank and law enforcement.
• Other types of scams that can impact customers include online “phishing” where scammers seek personal or financial information, as well as in-person scams where scammers pose as an electric or gas employee.
• Customers with concerns about the legitimacy of a call about a past due bill, service request or request for personal information are encouraged to call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
• Customers should always ask to see identification before allowing anyone claiming to be a PG&E representative inside their home. PG&E employees always carry their identification and are willing to show it to you.

If you feel threatened in any way, notify local law enforcement immediately. PG&E takes security seriously and will actively work with law enforcement to help stop any scam victimizing customers. Anyone who has received such a call can report it immediately by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 or visit www.pge.com/scams.