UUAS and its member companies have helped to shut down nearly 2,500 Toll-Free Numbers used by scammers against utility customers since March 2017
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 14, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and other natural gas water and electric utilities across the United States and Canada are joining forces today to protect their customers from scammers impersonating utility employees, either on the phone or in-person. A coalition of utilities called Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) designated November 14 as the third annual "Utilities United Against Scams Day," which will also be supported by a week-long campaign focused on exposing the tricks criminals use to steal money from customers. Through increased awareness and reports of possible scams, UUAS and its member companies have helped to shut down nearly 2,500 Toll-Free Numbers used by scammers against utility customers since March 2017.
"We take the privacy and security of our SoCalGas customers very seriously and are proud to take part in this campaign to help raise awareness," said Paul Goldstein, vice president of customer services at SoCalGas. "We encourage customers to look for the warning signs associated with this latest scam and to call the police as well as our customer call center number to report it to us. We also want to reiterate that we do not call our customers who are late on their payments but will instead send an email or a notice in the mail."
Going from November 11-17, this year's campaign "7 Scams in 7 Days" focuses on scams involving unsolicited phone calls from individuals who falsely claim to be SoCalGas or other utility representatives. The scammer warns the customer that SoCalGas will disconnect the customer's natural gas service if the customer fails to make a payment, usually within a short timeframe. It is important that customers call SoCalGas directly to check on the status of their accounts if they are ever unsure about the authenticity of a caller or the identity of a service worker, or if they suspect any fraudulent activity. SoCalGas representatives do not call customers demanding payments by phone. In some cases, recorded messages remind customers that payments are due to avoid service interruptions, but SoCalGas will never demand payments be made by phone.
Bill payment options include:
- Online payment via SoCalGas' My Account, where enrolled customers can make secure online payments, access account balance, schedule automatic payments, get email bill reminders, and pay by text.
- Pay by Credit or Debit through an independent service provider, BillMatrix online.
- Pay by Phone or Pay by Direct Debit with check or savings account.
- Customers can pay by mail, sending a check or money order with their bill stub to: SoCalGas, P.O. Box C, Monterey Park, CA 91756.
- For information, visit socalgas.com/pay-bill/ways-to-pay or call 800-427-2200.
Warning signs of a scam:
- A customer receives a phone call from someone claiming to be a utility employee, saying that their account is past due and threatening disconnection if a large sum of money isn't received within a short time frame.
- Often, scammers instruct customers to purchase a pre-paid debit, credit card, or cryptocurrency (such as bitcoin) and then call him or her back to make a payment to "SoCalGas" to avoid disconnection.
- The scammer then asks the customer for the pre-paid card's or cryptocurrency receipt number and PIN number which will then give the thief access to the funds.
How to protect yourself:
- SoCalGas representatives never ask a customer with a delinquent account to purchase a pre-paid debit, credit card, or cryptocurrency to avoid disconnection. Customers can make online payments by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person at an authorized SoCalGas payment center.
- Customers with delinquent accounts always receive an advance disconnection notification with the regular monthly billing and never a single notification one hour before service disconnection.
- Customers who suspect or experience fraud or feel threatened during contact with one of these thieves, should contact local authorities, and then SoCalGas at 1-800-427-2200.
SoCalGas continues its efforts to protect its customers in a variety of ways including: bill messages and alerts, working with the media, and partnering with local law enforcement and officials.
Customers are also encouraged to enroll in My Account for free tracking alerts and other online tools. It's an easy way to monitor natural gas use each week — instead of waiting until the monthly bill arrives — and it can help customers use less natural gas to lower their bills. Once enrolled, they can easily access their gas usage information, pay bills, schedule service orders and sign up for Bill Tracker Alerts.
Get Social to #StopScams
Help us spread awareness about utility scams on social media by sharing stories, articles and tips using #StopScams. Follow the official UUAS channels on Twitter: @U_U_A_S and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UtilitiesUnited/ for the latest updates. For more information, visit http://www.utilitiesunited.org.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States. SoCalGas delivers affordable, reliable, clean and increasingly renewable natural gas service to 21.8 million customers across 24,000 square miles of Central and Southern California, where more than 90 percent of residents use natural gas for heating, hot water, cooking, drying clothes or other uses. Natural gas delivered through the company's pipelines also plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians—about 60 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.
SoCalGas is committed to investing in its natural gas system infrastructure, while keeping bills affordable for our customers. From 2013 through 2017, the company spent nearly $6 billion to upgrade and modernize its natural gas system to enhance safety and reliability. The company is also committed to being a leader in the region's clean energy future, and is working to accelerate the use of renewable natural gas from dairy farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants and the development of renewable energy storage technologies. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), an energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit socalgas.com/newsroom or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook.
SOURCE Southern California Gas Company
Vanessa Skillman, Office of Media and Public Information, (213) 244-2442, [email protected]