Your doorbell rings and two men are standing on your porch claiming to be with Southern California Edison (SCE).
Wearing shirts with an SCE logo, they say you need to leave your home immediately because of unsafe conditions. You promptly leave only to return a short time later to discover your home has been burglarized.
This is what happened recently to an elderly Vietnamese customer living in Garden Grove, and law enforcement officials say utility worker impostors attempting to gain access to individuals’ homes occur all too often.
“We’ve had a few impostors already this year posing as utility workers and paint contractors. Many of the victims are elderly and individuals whose first language isn’t English,” said detective Pete Garcia of the Garden Grove Police Department. “We advise people to ask for ID. And if they still don’t feel comfortable, call the police.”
SCE and law enforcement officials remind customers to always ask for identification when a stranger comes to your door or calls claiming to be a utility worker. Legitimate SCE workers will provide verification, including their department and telephone number when asked.
In many cases, home visits by SCE personnel are scheduled by the customers and the utility will confirm the appointment in writing. Customers typically will receive advanced notice with a postcard, door hanger or phone call when SCE is going to perform scheduled work in an area that might affect service.
But what should you do if someone claiming to be with SCE shows up unannounced at your door? How can you be sure the individual is legitimate or not?
“It’s always in a customer’s best interest to not provide access to their home and to call our Customer Service Call Center at 1-800-655-4555 to inquire if there’s a purpose for an individual to be at their home,” said Kari Gardner, manager of Consumer Affairs for SCE. “We always warn customers to not let an individual in their home if they don’t have a scheduled appointment.”
SCE does contract work with third-party companies to perform tasks such as pole inspections and specific infrastructure projects. They typically have the SCE logo/insignia affixed to the door of their vehicle and some may carry SCE ID. However, if you have concerns, call the SCE call center at 1-800-655-4555 before allowing individuals onto your property. SCE representatives are available 24 hours a day for emergency purposes.
SCE and law enforcement officials suggest having the utility worker wait outside until their identity can be verified.
Here are some additional safety tips to guard against potential scams and impostors:
- Be suspicious if someone shows up without an appointment asking to check your appliances, your home’s wiring or any other electrical problem they claim may be inside your home.
- If SCE is going to perform scheduled work in an area that might affect service, customers always receive advanced notice via a postcard, door hanger or phone call. In emergency situations, when repair work is needed, advance notice cannot be provided.
- SCE employees carry photo ID badges while on the job. Ask to see identification and know the purpose of their visit.
- Customers can visit SCE’s Facebook and Twitter pages to post questions and get answers to their inquiries during regular business hours.
- SCE customers should call the Customer Service Call Center at 1-800-655-4555 to report suspicious phone calls or visitors claiming to be with the utility. The call center operates 24/7.