Humboldt County residents are reporting an increase in scam phone calls claiming to be Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and threatening to shut off power if a payment is not made.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has received multiple reports regarding scammers requesting payment on past due utility bills immediately, threatening to shut off power within 45 minutes if payment is not made. The scammers may request payment in a variety of ways including by debit card or by wiring money.
According to PG&E, scams claiming to be from their organization have reportedly become more sophisticated, with scammers including specific names of customers, and in some cases, guessing general dollar amounts owed. They are also disguising their true phone numbers with a caller ID that says "PG&E" or "Pacific Gas & Electric."
PG&E offers the following tips to help protect customers from all types of potential scams:
- PG&E's Credit Department will not ask for personal information or a credit card number over the phone. Anyone who has received such a phone call and provided credit card or checking account information should report it immediately to their credit card company or bank and law enforcement.
- Other types of scams that can impact customers include online "phishing" where scammers seek personal or financial information, as well as in-person scams where scammers pose as an electric or gas employee.
- Customers with concerns about the legitimacy of a call about a past due bill, service request or request for personal information are encouraged to call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
- Customers should always ask to see identification before allowing anyone claiming to be a PG&E representative inside their home. PG&E employees always carry their identification and are willing to show it to you.
- If you feel threatened in any way, notify local law enforcement immediately.
Anyone who has received such a call can report it immediately by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 or visit pge.com/scams.
Sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s scam alerts at ftc.gov/scams.
Visit https://www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds#item-35157 to learn how to report scams.
Visit https://humboldtgov.org/2864/Scam-Information to learn more about some of the common scams reported to the HCSO.