San Diego Utility Provider Warns Customers of New Scam

San Diego Utility Provider Warns Customers of New Scam

Power lines in Fullerton, Calif., on Dec. 22, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

City News Service
City News Service

6/6/2024

Updated: 6/6/2024

0

SAN DIEGO—San Diego Gas & Electric June 5 alerted customers to a text-message utility scam trying to defraud local utility customers.
According to the utility company, the scheme attempts to exploit SDG&E’s legitimate use of text messages and email notifications to inform residential customers of work orders, such as meter changes, reads, and tests.
The scam begins with a text message that includes an SDG&E logo and says there is an immediate work order to disconnect power at the address on file. The scammer asks the customer to call a scammer-run call center to confirm the work order, according to the utility company.
When the customer places the call, they briefly hear a recorded message: “Welcome to the SDG&E call center, you are the first in the queue.” After hold music, a live fraudster attempts to demand immediate payment to stop the power from being disconnected, according to an SDG&E statement.
Targeted customers are then asked to pay in non-traceable forms of payment SDG&E doesn’t use, such as Bitcoin, Zelle and Green Dot debit cards. The utility company said targets are repeatedly told the payment did not go through and to send it again, which means people could be hit for the cost of the scam multiple times.
According to SDG&E, those most targeted include restaurant owners, small businesses, homeowner associations, older adults and limited-English speakers—anyone vulnerable.
The scam is intended to route the customer to a fake 1-800 number. The company said legitimate SDG&E texts will always point the customer to SDG&E’s main Customer Care Center, 1-800-411-7343, or 1-800-311-7343 for Spanish-speakers.
An example of a format of legitimate text message from the company is as follows: “A member of our team plans to visit your property within the next 3 days to inspect and/or work on your meter or complete your requested work order. Reply STOP to opt out.”
Legitimate emails from the company also include the fact that SDG&E technicians will be wearing a company uniform and have a company badge.
The utility company offered several tips to avoid being scammed:
  • SDG&E will never call to demand immediate payment made over the phone with the threat of immediate service disconnection;
  • SDG&E will never accept any payment over the phone -- any individual requesting payment over the phone is an imposter;
  • The only utility bill payment options are My Account, a branch office location, or an authorized payment location;
  • SDG&E does not accept pre-paid cash cards, Zell, Green Dot, or Bitcoin for bill payments;
  • The utility company will never demand cash in person;
  • Never provide your utility bill information to anyone you do not know or your online utility login credentials to anybody;
  • Never use the call-back number provided by an unknown caller;
  • Always find the official contact information from verified sources; and
  • Have a conversation about utility scams with older family members and friends to ensure they do not fall victim.
SDG&E customers can always check their bill and payment history through sdge.com/MyAccount.
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