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Utility bill scammers are once again targeting customers throughout the United States by phone and sometimes even email. In both scenarios, the scammers often request personal information and threaten to cut off electrical service if they do not receive immediate payment.
Some Southern California Edison (SCE) customers have reported receiving these suspicious emails that look like a bill. Others have reported aggressive phone scams threatening immediate service disconnection if customers don’t pay a purported overdue bill.
“SCE never uses high-pressure tactics 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 immediate termination of service.”
This latest email scam follows a recent utility phone scam where more than 2,000 SCE customers were targeted. Unfortunately, more than 300 customers have fallen victim to the scam, many of them mom and pop business owners and entrepreneurs whose first language is not English.
The scammers often demand immediate payment through a prepaid cash card or debit card. The average loss for SCE business customers last year was between $800 and $1,000; residential customer lost an average of between $300 and $500. Overall, the total losses so far for SCE customers are estimated at $225,000.
“We ask our customers to be alert to these scams that demand immediate payment and threaten service disconnection,” said Denter.
If SCE customers receive suspicious emails, they should never click on any links or attachments, and never send a reply. Customers should also delete the email. If a customer has been victimized, they can report it online to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force at StopFraud.gov.
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.
In either situation, customers should contact SCE at 800-655-4555.