The New Wave of PG&E Telephone Scam Targeting Californians
Key Points From The Article:
- Criminals posing as Pacific Gas & Electric (PGE) representatives are targeting California residents in a telephone scam.
- Unlike the typical fake call, the fraudsters have spoofed the PG&E caller ID, which ensnares many people to conclude that they’re talking to a PG&E representative.
- The scammer threatens people to shut off power if they don’t make an immediate payment on the utility bill with a gift card.
- The new telephone scam is more severe because the criminals use automated calls that deploy scams fast.
- However, even if you owe PG&E, you can quickly identify the scammer when they make financial requests over the phone.
Californians have been warned about a new telephone scam in which fraudsters pose as representatives from Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). The scammer will call and claim that the person’s account is delinquent and threaten to shut off their power if they do not make a payment immediately.
Online, people are talking about receiving telephone calls from someone telling them that they need to pay their bill right away, or they’re going to turn off their services.
What makes this P&G telephone scam severe is that the fake call comes with PG&E ID, and people should be aware of it.
The Telephone Scammers Spoofed PG&E Caller ID
The California PG&E scam is very devious because the fraudsters have managed to alter the caller ID somehow to say Pacific Gas and Electricity. When people see the caller ID, they conclude that it must be PG&E even when it’s fake.
The caller ID is not like an unknown number. Instead, it has a specific caller ID.
When a person answers the phone, the number has a recording that says that PG&E will turn off power because they’re late in your payment.
To make people gullible, the recording gives people an option to press a digit to talk to somebody to resolve the issue right away. When you do so, the scammers direct your call to a human being, who’ll then tell you frightening stories about how they’ll put out your power within the hour unless you provide gift cards.
The scammer will tell you that it’s too late to send a check and the only way is to go to Safeway or other outlets to buy particular cards and tell them what the numbers are. Alternatively, they will instruct the person to purchase a prepaid debit card and then provide the card number over the phone.
Your business and customers should know that PG&E will never demand immediate payment or require customers to purchase a prepaid debit card to keep their service from being disconnected.
Automated Calls Allow the Fraudster to Deploy the Scams Fast
The fact that the PG&E fraudsters use automated calls makes it easy for the scammers to use computers to make the calls for them. The only time they need a real person is when somebody presses the button to get an answer to talk to a representative, where they snare you.
The scammers randomly shoot around and see who they can get to and give them a bunch of money via gift cards.
The reality is that if the PG&E is going to turn off your service for late or lack of payment, they’ll send actual representatives out to your house to disconnect your power. The company can’t do the disconnection by a computer in an office somewhere.
How To Identify a False PG&E Call
The call ID will show PG&E, and the person claims to be an official representative. To know that the call is fraudulent, the caller might do the following:
- Tell you that your bill is past overdue, and PG&E will shut off your power within an hour if you don’t make an immediate payment
- Ask you to make payment with a gift card. MoneyPak, or payment apps like Zelle and Venmo
- Inquire about your PG&E account number, Social security number, or logins to understand your energy usage. PG&E doesn’t require such information to get your usage data
- Claim that power shutoff is inevitable and that you should share personal information to determine if your address will be impacted
- Insist that residents qualify for a federal tax refund on their utility bill, try to sell related services, or attempt to gain access to a customer’s home
You should be aware that scammers can hide their true phone numbers and claim to be from PG&E.
What Do If Your Business Receive a Call From Fraudsters Posing To Be PG&E Representative
Anyone who receives one of these calls should hang up immediately and report it to PG&E. This scam is just one of many targeting California residents lately, so it’s essential to be vigilant and never give out personal information or financial information to anyone over the phone.
You should remember that PG&E never asks for your financial information over the phone. People should treat any financial request over the phone as a scam.
When anyone calls and threatens to shut off your power unless you make a quick payment, you shouldn’t panic and pay them. Even if you owe PG&E money, the company will give you notice in the mail with an option of a payment plan.
Alvarez Technology Group Will Help Your Business and Customers Stay Safe From Scams
Whenever security experts develop new protocols and security tactics, criminals, on the other end, look for ways to bypass them. For instance, if you trained your staff to identify telephone scams, the fraudsters have moved steps ahead to spoof call IDs, which can easily make anyone gullible.
You have the difficult task of continuously protecting your business and customers from telephone scams. You’re responsible for executing cybersecurity training for both employees and customers on how to identify and deal with a scam to protect your business.
However, keeping on top of emerging threats requires time, and many businesses don’t have the resources to execute it properly. Alvarez Technology Group can help your business stay on top of new threats. Contact us today to keep your business prepared for the next cyber incident.