Scam artists have gotten more aggressive and creative in their attempts to trick you out of your money and personal information.
“We have seen a spike in reports of people showing up at customers’ residences and businesses claiming to be from Southern California Edison,” said Kari Gardner, senior manager, Southern California Edison (SCE) Consumer Affairs. “Our employees always have their SCE ID badge on display for customers to see. And you can always call our Customer Service Department to verify unscheduled visits.”
Recently, a man falsely claiming to be an SCE employee appeared at a customer’s home, saying he needed to read the meter. When access to the property was denied, the stranger threatened to shut off the resident’s electricity.
In another instance, a woman lost $500 after being told by a telephone caller she had one hour to pay up on a supposedly late bill before her electricity would be disconnected.
Since January, SCE customers have been scammed out of nearly $200,000. Edison takes every fraud complaint received seriously and, after investigation, has helped phone carriers disconnect more than 600 scam numbers this year.
“It’s really important to educate yourself so you can recognize red flags that are clear signs of a scam,” said Gardner. “Education and awareness are the key to prevention and the best way to protect yourself, your family, your home and your business.”
If you suspect fraudulent activity, hang up and report it to local police and to SCE at 1-800-655-4555. To learn how to stay safe, visit on.sce.com/ScamAlert. SCE suggests the following tips to avoid fraud:
—Never let anyone inside your home or business that you don’t know or who has not scheduled an appointment with you in advance.
—Never make a payment over the telephone in response to an unsolicited call threatening to disconnect your service if you don’t pay immediately. SCE does not have a Disconnection Department.
—To check your account, visit your SCE online account or call the number on your SCE bill. Never use the call-back number provided by the caller.
—SCE does not accept prepaid debit cards, bitcoins or gift cards for bill payment.
—SCE employees never ask for, or collect, money out in the field.
—Never give your personal information to anyone, including your billing account information, Social Security number, ATM pin number, etc.
—Don’t trust caller ID, even if it says Southern California Edison. Criminals routinely use a caller ID “spoofing” scam to fool customers into thinking they’re talking to real Edison employees.