PG&E alerted its customers of scam phone calls or emails threatening power shut-offs in light of the COVID-19, colloquially known as the coronavirus, pandemic.
According to a press release from PG&E spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian, PG&E’s Corporate Security Department has received numerous reports of scammers allegedly requesting additional payments on past utility bills. It has also seen increased rates of “spoofing,” or calls that seem to be coming 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,” said James Murphy, senior director of corporate security at PG&E, in a press release. “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.”
In response to the spread of COVID-19, PG&E enacted a moratorium on service disconnections for nonpayment, which can be applied to residential and commercial customers. According to the release, it will remain effective until further notice from the company.
If customers receive a call that includes threats related to a disruption in service for nonpayment, they should assume it is a scam, according to the release.
The release also states that scammers sometimes include the names of customers in addition to a dollar amount supposedly owed. It adds that true phone calls from the company will have a caller ID of either “PG&E” or “Pacific Gas & Electric.”
According to the release, other scam tactics include claims that residents are eligible for federal tax refunds, selling services related to solar evaluation and pretending to represent a PG&E initiative to sell a product.
To protect customers against scammers, PG&E notified customers in the release that its Credit Department will never ask for personal information on a phone call. Customers who are concerned about a call’s legitimacy, according to the release, are encouraged to call 1-800-743-5000.
Additionally, PG&E encouraged its customers to ask for identification before allowing someone who appears to work for PG&E into their homes.