How scammers are using utilities to steal from customers

Southern California Edison says scammers have stolen $229,000 from customers this year

Scammers are posing as utility companies such as Southern California Edison and sending fake text messages to gain customer information and demand payments, SCE said, and the utility is trying to raise awareness to avoid future theft.

Over 2,700 reported cases of utility scams resulted in $229,000 of losses from customers so far this year, Southern California Edison said in a statement issued ahead of Utility Scam Awareness Day on Wednesday, Nov. 15. SCE says scammers are especially active during the holidays.

Scammers may threaten disconnection and demand immediate payment as a way of catching residents off guard, said Gabriela Ornelas, media relations advisor for SCE.

“It takes one moment, just one distraction or lack of attention, and anyone can fall victim to these scams,” Ornelas said. “These scammers target across the spectrum.”

SCE will not text customers unless they have signed up for notifications and will not use barcodes in their text messages, Ornelas added. Scammers will also send spam emails disguised with fake email addresses, logos, trademarks and website links to give the appearance of legitimacy, according to SCE’s statement.

“The best method of prevention is education,” Ornelas said. “We try our best to inform our customers on what to look out for.”

Ornelas said a one-time bill assistance is available when a customer reports a case and other support programs are available.

While the SCE collects a record of the reported scams, the information is not passed along to authorities directly from the utility. Customers should also report the scams to local authorities as well, Ornelas said.

SCE provided additional warnings to the public in their statement.

  • SCE will never demand payment or credit card information over the phone
  • SCE does not take prepaid Visa cards, Bitcoin or Cash apps, like Zelle
  • SCE will not text you for payment via barcode
  • SCE will not threaten to remove your meter
  • SCE does not have a “Disconnection Department”

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