.PG&E Customers Scammed

Almost 300 customers defrauded in SC County in 2023

Scammers have been taking advantage of PG&E customers in the last year and are continuing to do so into 2024. Santa Cruz County residents are some of the most victimized by the culprits, according to a release by the public utility.

Customers were fleeced for nearly $900,000 in 2023 alone, with 43,000 cases reported to PG&E from throughout the state.The scammers impersonated PG&E employees and processed fraudulent payments. The average victim was robbed of $785.

Santa Cruz residents were the second-most swindled group with 192 reported scams in 2023. Watsonville residents reported 75 incidents. PG&E said that this was an all-time high for scams. However, many go unreported.

The frauds have continued in high numbers into 2024, with customers reporting over 2,500 attempts in the month of January, and the scammers made off with $67,000 from customer payments.

The scammers are employing sophisticated techniques, including creating authentic-looking 800 numbers which appear on a phone’s display screen.

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PG&E is now partnering with the Federal Trade Commission to curb fraud attempts.

Matt Foley, scam investigator for PG&E, said any threats of immediate disruption of service are a red flag.

“Scammers will attempt to create a sense of urgency by threatening immediate disconnection of your utility services if you don’t make immediate payment,” Foley said. 

He stressed that anyone asking for financial information over the phone, or asking for payment via prepaid debit cards or money transfer services like Zelle is not a PG&E representative. 

Fraudsters will often look for times when customers may be distracted or stressed and are constantly contacting utility customers asking for immediate payment to avoid service disconnection. They also target vulnerable populations like seniors and low-income households.

Here are signs of a potential scam:

  • 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 you think you are being scammed, contact PG&E at 1-833-500-SCAM. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is also a good source of information about how to protect personal information. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.


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