During Utility Scam Awareness Week and the Ongoing Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic, PG&E Urges Customers to Protect Themselves Against Scammers
Every day, electric and natural gas customers throughout the country are being targeted by utility scams. These imposters typically target customers online, in-person and by telephone. And, this year is even worse due to the ongoing financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. PG&E is taking a stand against scammers by joining its fellow electric, natural gas, water utilities and Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) in helping customers recognize potential bad actors during Utility Scam Awareness Week from November 16-23, 2020.
UUAS, a consortium of more than 145 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations, continues to create awareness of common scams and new scam tactics being used during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through its work, UUAS has succeeded in taking nearly 9,500 toll-free numbers used by scammers against utility customers out of operation.
“Scammers are constantly changing their tactics and tricks, so awareness is more important than ever to keep our customers safe,” said Laurie Giammona, PG&E’s chief customer officer. “If an email, visit to your home or phone call doesn’t feel right, don’t fall for it. Delete it, shut the door or hang up. And, as a reminder, PG&E will never ask for your financial information over the phone or via email.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers have increased calls, texts, emails, and in-person tactics and are constantly contacting utility customers asking for immediate payment to avoid service disconnection. As a reminder, PG&E will never contact a customer for the first time within one hour of a service disconnection, and will never ask customers to make payments with a pre-paid debit card, gift card, any form of cryptocurrency, or third-party digital payment mobile applications.
“It is no surprise that scammers have been trying to take advantage of the anxiety of people coping with the pandemic,” said UUAS Founder and Executive Committee Chairman Jared Lawrence. “I am proud to report that UUAS’ education efforts and utilities’ well-publicized practices have prevented a large increase in victims. However, the continuing attempts by these criminals make it clear that we must continue to work to protect our customers.”
Scammers can be convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, including senior citizens and low-income communities. They also aim their scams at small business owners during busy customer service hours. However, with the right information, customers can learn to detect and report these predatory scams.