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PG&E customers targeted by scammers ahead of IRS tax deadline

Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) said its customers are being targeted by scammers ahead of the May 17 tax deadline.

The scammers are posing as PG&E employees over the phone to try to steal financial information from the utility’s customers. The scammers file fraudulent tax returns in their names and then collect their refunds.

PG&E Communications Representative Mark Mesesan said these scammers are targeting specific groups of people and often go after those who would be especially worried about losing service.

“It affects all of our customers. Any kind of customer is susceptible,” Mesesan said. “But the ones that seem to be victimized the most are what you would expect to be the most vulnerable.”

He said seniors, low-income families, non-English speakers and small business owners are more likely to get these fraudulent calls.

Mesesan said PG&E receives ongoing reports of scams all the time and this is just the latest one.

Credit Courtesy of PG&E

Mesesan said PG&E will never ask for financial information over the phone or through email. He said there are several ways to tell that something is likely a scam: “We do not demand immediate payment,” Mesesan said. “We certainly do not demand payment with these prepaid cash cards that are so common with the scammers.”

Another red flag is when threats are made to shut off utility service immediately. PG&E customers receive advance disconnection notices, typically by mail, and included in their regular monthly bill.

PG&E has also suspended customer disconnections through June 30, 2021 due to the pandemic.

If you are unsure about a call from an alleged PG&E employee, hang up and call the utility at 1-800-743-5000.

PG&E said customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud, or who feel threatened by a scammer, should contact their local police department.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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