Southern California Edison issued a warning Wednesday about telephone-based scammers who falsely tell the utility’s customers their bills are overdue, then persuade them to make emergency payments via prepaid debit cards to avoid having their electrical service disconnected.
Impostors recently started claiming police would be sent to the victim’s home or business if an immediate payment is not received. Others have set up telephone lines that state: “Hello. Thank you for calling Southern California Edison Disconnection Department.”
The caller demands an immediate payment and tells the victim to buy a prepaid debit loaded with a specific amount, then read the card number over the phone, enabling the crooks to cash out the card, according to SCE.
“The best way for customers to protect themselves against utility impostors and this phone scam is to educate themselves, their employees and their friends about being aware when they receive telephone calls from individuals demanding money for payment,” said Kari Gardner, SCE’s manager of consumer affairs.
About 13,000 SCE customers have reported receiving such calls over the past several years, according to SCE, which does not accept prepaid cards for payments or threaten customers to make immediate payments. Most victims are the owners of small businesses and entrepreneurs whose first language is not English, according to the utility.
SCE customers who suspect a caller is a fraud should ask for the person’s name, department and business phone number. They should then end the call and report it to local police or SCE by calling (800) 655-4555.
SCE offered the following tips:
- Never give out credit card, ATM or calling card numbers
- Never use a call-back number provided by an unknown caller to verify billing information
- Never leave home based on a call from a supposed utility representative, who says the home needs to be vacant at a specific time for a utility-related cause. Instead call police, because it may be a burglar
- Be suspicious of anyone who arrives at your house without an appointment, asking to check an appliance, wiring or suggesting that there may be some other electrical problem in or outside your home.
More tips are posted at www.sce.com/safety .
— City News Service
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: