PG&E is sending a warning about scammers who have already taken tens of thousands of dollars from customers through phone calls.
The calls, which look like they’re coming directly from the utility company, warn that a customer's power could be shut off in a matter of minutes unless they pay immediately.
“Scammers are very convincing,” said PG&E spokesperson Mayra Tostado. “Their technology allows them to spoof customers. They’ll use numbers that are identical to PG&E.”
The utility company said more than a thousand customers were scammed like this, in January alone, bilking them of more than $65,000.
The utility believes the crooks are not only after money, but also personal information so they can steal the customer's tax refund as well.
“We never threaten to disconnect your service, and we will never demand immediate payment,” said Tostado.
PG&E said customers who fall behind are instead put on a monthly payment plan they can afford. They said that option became especially popular during the pandemic, when a growing number of customers couldn’t afford the full payment.
People said the phony calls and emails aren't limited to PG&E.
“I’ve gotten Netflix and a couple others, but instead of clicking those links, I call the companies that I do business with: ‘Did you send me a link?’” said customer Mary Segura.
PG&E said it is working with the FBI to try to track down those responsible, and they say anyone can be a target, including NBC Bay Area's Damian Trujillo. He got one of those calls and was connected to a live person. But the moment he told them that he was recording the call, they immediately hung up.
“Do not fall for it. It’s a scammer,” said Tostado.