LOS ANGELES, Nov. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern California Gas Co. and other natural gas and electric utilities across the United States and Canada are joining forces to protect their customers from telephone scams. The coalition of utilities have designated Nov. 16 as "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.
The current scam this campaign focuses around involves unsolicited phone calls to utility customers 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.
"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 Gillian Wright, 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 mail notice."
Warning signs of latest scam:
An individual calls a customer telling them that their account is past due and threatening disconnection if a large sum of money isn't received within the hour.
The thief then instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card from a retail store and then call him or her back to make a payment to "SoCalGas."
The scammer then asks the customer for the pre-paid card's receipt number and PIN number which will then give the thief access to the card's funds.
How to protect yourself:
Again, SoCalGas representatives never ask or require a customer with a delinquent account to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card 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.
About Southern California Gas Co.
Southern California Gas Co. has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 140 years. It is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing service to 21.4 million consumers connected through 5.9 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles throughout central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. Southern California Gas Co. is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.