There is a new wave of scammers targeting SDG&E customers. They’re using the same old tactic: they threaten to turn off your power unless you immediately pay a past-due bill. The uptick is troubling because some of the scammers are targeting elderly SDG&E customers who are especially vulnerable, such as those who require electricity to meet critical medical needs.
The current tactics used by scammers include impersonating SDG&E’s billing department and asking for payment using Green Dot MoneyPak, a way of sending cash via prepaid or bank debit cards. SDG&E does not ask customers to pay using methods such as Green Dot MoneyPak.
Tactics Being Used Now
One active scam targets seniors, some of whom rely on assisted oxygen therapy powered by electricity. Scammers convince them to use Green Dot MoneyPak to load prepaid or bank debit cards at grocery stores. Victims are told to pay by this method to avoid service disconnection. It can be confusing because the scammers use a 1-800 number (1-800-262-3917) with a recorded message and menu options that mimic SDG&E’s customer service line, which is 1-800-411-7343. When victims call the scam number, they hear a recorded message that tells them they are calling SDG&E’s business line. They are given different menu options, including one to pay their bill or to report a gas leak or power outage.
If scammers do not get you on the phone directly, they may leave you an automated message like this:
“Hi, this is an automated message from San Diego Gas and Electric Billing Department. This call is to inform you that your power will get disconnected in 30 minutes due to a pending balance on the account. Please call the direct billing department number at 1-800-262-3917 to avoid power disconnection. Again, the number is 1-800-262-3917."
SDG&E will never proactively contact customers requesting their credit card, banking or other financial information or threaten immediate disconnection. Even if you have a past-due balance that needs to be paid, SDG&E will always provide past-due notices in writing before shutting off service and offer payment plan options. Those who have been laid off or seen their hours reduced due to the coronavirus, SDG&E is temporarily suspending service disconnections for nonpayment until further notice. Read more at sdgenews.com.
If you are a caretaker for an older adult or have elderly relatives or friends, please warn them about utility scams and urge them to follow the tips below to avoid becoming a victim.
SDG&E will NOT:
1. Call a customer and demand immediate payment. Customers may receive communications directing them to pay their bill via their MyAccount at sdge.com or the Billmatrix system. SDG&E offers automated payment by phone when you call 1-800-411-7343.
2. Request that a customer use pre-paid debit cards for payments or cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to pay their bill.
3. Send emails with an online payment method with a QR code.
1. If a caller claims to work for SDG&E and asks for payment over the phone, it’s a scam.
2. Only provide financial information by telephone if you made the call.