San Diego Gas & Electric warned customers Thursday against giving out credit card information to callers who claim to represent the utility.
Scammers are contacting customers by phone and threatening to turn off electric or gas service unless immediate payment is made, according to SDG&E.
Company officials said targeted customers are being directed to purchase a pre-paid credit or debit card, call another phone number and provide the card’s account information. The card value is then emptied.
SDG&E said its representatives do not call customers and ask them to provide credit card information over the telephone. Customers should only provide their financial data if they have initiated the call to the utility.
The company said if customers become uncomfortable during a phone call with a purported representative of the company, they should hang up and immediately call SDG&E at (800) 411-7343.
Authorities have warned of a wave of phone scams in which the caller threatens the potential victim with some dire result, even arrest, if payment is not rendered immediately.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department reported this week that callers claiming to be deputies or other law enforcement representatives are telling victims there are warrants our for the arrest and they must pay to solve the problem.
Another version of the scam has the caller claim that the recipient owes taxes and needs to pay immediately.
An ABC affiliate report noted a recent survey in which it’s estimated there have been 17.6 million victims of such frauds in the past year and for those who perpetrate the scams, business is lucrative. The survey found a total of $8.6 billion was lost to the con artists.
– City News Service contributed to this report.
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