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SDG&E Consumer Fraud Alert

 

Last updated 6/6/2024 at 10:39am

Sample of the fraudulent text message

To protect customers, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is alerting customers to a recently documented text-message utility scam trying to defraud local utility customers. The scheme attempts to exploit SDG&E's legitimate use of text messages and email notifications to inform residential customers of work orders like meter changes, reads and tests.

There is an important distinction between a fraudulent and a legitimate customer communication – the fraudster will route the customer to a fake 1-800 number. Legitimate SDG&E texts will always point the customer to SDG&E's main Customer Care Center, 1-800-411-7343 (or 1-800-311-7343 for Spanish-speakers). When in doubt, hang up and call SDG&E back at the number listed on SDG&E's webpage.

Here's How It Unfolds

This scam starts with a text message (see attached) that includes an SDG&E logo and says that there is an immediate work order to disconnect power at the address on file. The scammer asks the customer to call a scammer-run call center to confirm the work order. When the customer places the call, they briefly hear a recorded message: "Welcome to the SDG&E call center, you are the first in the queue." After hold music, a live fraudster attempts to demand immediate payment to stop the power from being disconnected.

Targeted customers are asked to pay in non-traceable Bitcoin, Zelle, Green Dot debit cards, or other non-traditional forms of payment that SDG&E does not use. Compounding the loss – targets are repeatedly told the payment did not go through and they may unwittingly repeat the financial transaction. Victims are told to keep trying because any amount overpaid will result in an expedited refund. The losses can be staggering.

Those most prone to fraud include restaurant owners, small businesses, homeowner associations, older adults, and limited-English speakers. Fraudsters prey on victims whose livelihood depends on a consistent source of electricity. For example, the fraudsters have been known to call restaurateurs just prior to the lunch hour to add pressure. The owner, experiencing the noontime rush, complies with the fraudulent demands for payment.

Remember the following tips to avoid becoming a victim:

- SDG&E will never call to demand immediate payment made over the phone with the threat of immediate service disconnection.

- SDG&E will never accept any payment over the phone – any individual requesting payment over the phone is an imposter.

- The only utility bill payment options are My Account, a Branch Office location, or an Authorized Payment Location.

- SDG&E does not accept pre-paid cash cards, Zell, Green Dot, or Bitcoin for bill payments.

- The utility company will never demand cash in person.

- Never provide your utility bill information to anyone you do not know.

- Never provide anyone your online utility login credentials.

- Never use the call-back number provided by an unknown caller. Always find the official contact information from verified sources.

- Have a conversation about utility scams with older family members and friends to ensure they do not fall victim.

- Don't forget, you can always check your bill and payment history via sdge.com/MyAccount

For information about scams, visit sdge.com/scams.

BACKGROUND

As part of SDG&E's commitment to continuous improvements and customer and employee safety, the Company began sending text and email notifications this month to make residential customers aware if an SDG&E employee is scheduled to visit their property to read or perform routine work on their meter.

Sample of new (legit) text and email notifications:

Type - Language

Text Message

SDG&E: A member of our team plans to visit your property within the next 3 days to inspect and/or work on your meter or complete your requested work order. Reply STOP to opt out.

Email Message

SUBJECT: SDG&E planned visit on your property

BODY:

This is San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) with an important message. A member of our team plans to visit your property within the next three days to inspect and potentially work on your meter, or complete the work you requested, such as an appliance check. *

What to expect:

· Our technicians will always wear an SDG&E uniform and have a company badge. An SDG&E vehicle will also be parked nearby.

· Meter work: In most cases, the technician will need to access your property. You do not need to be home for our technicians to inspect and/or perform work on the meter.

· Requested work: You must be home or have made arrangements to access your property in advance with one of our representatives to complete work you have requested, such as an appliance check. 

Your safety and peace of mind is our top priority. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call our Customer Care Center at 1-800-411-7343 (Español: 1-800-311-7343). Learn how to avoid scams at sdge.com/scams.

*Note: Work may need to be rescheduled due to emergencies, severe weather and other unforeseen circumstances.

 
 
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