A new wave of scammers is targeting San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) customers, threatening to cut off their service unless they pay their utility bills immediately with prepaid cards.
The most common tactic reported is scammers impersonating SDG&E’s billing department and asking for payment via Green Dot MoneyPak, a way of sending cash via prepaid or bank debit cards.
Known as the “Pay-by-Phone” scam, or “Green Dot” scam, criminals typically threaten immediate power shut-offs to scare customers into making an immediate payment. Once customers purchase prepaid debit cards, or make wire transfers based on the scammer’s instructions, they are asked to call another phone number to provide the card information, which allows the thieves to steal the money.
It can be especially confusing for victims, as the phone number scammers use may play a recorded message and menu options that mimic SDG&E’s official customer service line, which is 1-800-411-7343. When victims call the number provided by scammers, they may hear a recorded message that tells them they are calling SDG&E’s business line. They are given different menu options, including one to pay their bill or to report a gas leak or power outage. To avoid becoming a victim of utility scams, please follow the tips below.
Bottom Line: SDG&E will NOT:
• Call a customer to proactively ask for payment information during the call. Customers may receive communications directing them to pay their bill via their MyAccount at sdge.com, use the Billmatrix system, or to call and use the automated pay-by-phone option at 1-800-411-7343.
• Request that a customer use pre-paid debit cards for payments or cryptocurrencies (i.e. Bitcoin) to pay their bill.
• Send emails with an online payment method with a QR code.
If you suspect a caller may be a utility scammer, please keep the following in mind.
What to do:
If a caller claims to work for SDG&E and asks for payment over the phone, it is a scam, hang up!
Only provide financial information by telephone if the customer initiated the call.
Hang up and call SDG&E directly at 1-800-411-7343 to verify information about the account. Customers can also view their account status, including bills and payments, through SDG&E’s mobile app or via sdge.com/myaccount.
Don’t be the next victim
Victims of fraud are urged to call SDG&E immediately at 1-800-411-7343 to report it. Customers can also follow these additional tips to avoid becoming a victim of utility scams.