Small businesses report that they have received telephone calls from people claiming to be from PG&E who threaten to shut down their electricity within an hour or two because of unpaid bills.
The scammers demand immediate payment via prepaid cash cards such as PayPal or Green Dot cards. Legitimate utilities never ask for instant payment and accept many forms of payment. If in doubt about the legitimacy of a threatened power shut down, businesses should call PG&E at 1-800 468-4743 to discuss their account.
Here are some tips on how to recognize and avoid this type of scam:
- A quick online search by entering a few words, in this case, “utility shut down phone call, immediate payment” may reveal if it is a known scam; and
- Calling the company, in this case PG&E, directly at their official number is another easy way to verify the authenticity of the call.
Santa Clara County residents or businesses who have further questions are invited to call the Consumer Protection Unit at 408-792-2880.