It’s easy to get distracted during the holiday season, whether at your business or in your personal life, but it’s important to remain vigilant against utility phone scammers during this busy time of the year
More than 2,000 Southern California Edison (SCE) customers have received calls from phone scammers posing as utility employees threatening to cut service due to unpaid bills. Unfortunately, more than 300 of them have fallen victim to the scam, many of them mom and pop business owners and entrepreneurs whose first language is not English.
“SCE never calls a customer to collect or demand money for past due bills,” said Marlyn Denter, SCE’s manager of Consumer Affairs. “We are not in the business of threatening our customers with the termination of service.”
Imposters have been calling SCE customers telling them they must make immediate payment on past due bills or have their electric service disconnected. The scam artists also are demanding that payment be made through a prepaid cash card. Other forms of fraud involve customers being asked to purchase prepaid debit cards.
The average loss per business customer this year was between $800 and $1,000. The average loss per residential customer was $300 to $500. Overall, the total losses so far for SCE customers are estimated at $225,000. This is not counting the other utilities across the country and Canada that are also being affected by this scam.
“We ask our customers to be alert to these calls that demand immediate payment and threaten service disconnection,” said Denter.
SCE customers suspecting a fraudulent call should ask for the caller’s name, department and business phone number. If the caller refuses to provide this information, customers should terminate the call and report the incident immediately to local police or SCE at 800-655-4555.