Utility payment scam involving pre-paid cash cards
Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) is warning customers to be aware of a payment scam involving utility imposters demanding customers pay their energy bills with pre-paid cash cards or face immediate termination of utility service. The fraudulent activity has been reported in Los Angeles and at this time there are no indications that SoCalGas customers have been targeted.
Customers of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) have reported that individuals misrepresenting themselves as utility employees are calling and threatening to turn off electric and water service if payment is not made to them that day. Utility customers have been told that the payment must be made by purchasing a pre-pay cash card, and are directed to another phone number where information is then obtained from the card and the cash value is removed from the card.
"Although there are no reports of SoCalGas customers being a victim of this fraudulent activity, we want to alert our customers in an effort to prevent them from becoming potential victims," said Michael Schneider, vice president of customer operations at SoCalGas. "We advise customers to be alert and not to provide any type of financial information if they receive a call from a suspicious company.”
SoCalGas customers have multiple payment options: online, pre-enrolled direct debit, by mail, or in person at an authorized payment location.
For customers behind in their payment, the utility provides past due notification in writing before service is shut-off for non-payment. When customers call SoCalGas for billing inquiries, employees will always be able to provide account information and the exact past due balance. Additionally, all SoCalGas employees on company business are required to carry a photo ID badge.
If customers receive a phone call that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should hang up and call SoCalGas at 1-800-427-2200 or 1-800-342-4545 in Spanish, or the local authorities to file a report.