Bringing New Scams Out of the Shadows
Jeff Ashby of Mission Viejo was heading out the door to run errands when a call came in. While he usually doesn’t answer calls from numbers he doesn’t recognize, he decided to answer this one.
“I picked up the phone, and the man said he was Jason with Southern California Edison, and I had a past-due bill. ‘You need to pay $600 immediately, or your service is going to be cut off,’” Ashby said. “This is totally odd since I always pay my bills on time, so I told him I wanted to speak to a supervisor.”
When Ashby didn’t get connected to the supervisor, a purported SCE technician called him, saying he was on his way to disconnect his service and transferred the call back to “Jason.”
“Jason told me to go to a remote pay location, which I knew was not legit, but I decided to go check it out. He sent me to a bitcoin machine in a smoke shop,” Ashby said. At that point, Ashby knew it was a scam and hung up on Jason, who had remained on the phone with him while he drove to the location. Ashby went home, checked his account online and then called SCE to alert the company to the call.
Around the same time, Jessica L., another SCE customer, was receiving a different scam call.
“My phone rang from a solar company saying they work with Southern California Edison and will save me money on installing solar,” Jessica said. “All I had to do was give them my my account PIN, and they would do the rest. If I had been in a hurry, I would have done it, but I started to ask questions about my account, and they hung up.”
Thieves continually make up new ways to steal your money or get access to your personal information, so it’s important to resist the pressure to act immediately. Honest businesses will give you time to decide. If someone calls you and asks you to confirm the one-time PIN you just received, this is a red flag that you’re about to get scammed. Don’t fall for it.
“Although two-factor authentication remains one of the best ways to ensure your account is secure, make sure you are alert in sensing scams that hackers use to get around these security measures,” said Peggy Garcia, an SCE Information Governance advisor. “Protect yourself by never re-texting or sharing your code over the phone. Scammers want to use your account to scam money from you.”
SCE takes your privacy seriously and makes every effort to protect your information.
Remember, if something doesn’t feel right or you think a caller is trying to scam you, hang up immediately. If you get a suspicious email or text, do not reply. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is a scammer.
Be aware of scammers using untraceable payment methods. If you detect suspicious activity, try to get a callback number, then hang up and contact SCE directly via firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing SCE’s online fraud form.
You should also report the scam attempt to local law enforcement.
SCE will never:
- Ask for an SCE pin code to get into your account.
- Call a customer and ask for financial information over the phone.
- Recommend a nonaffiliated/contracted solar company or third party.
For more information on how to protect your account data and avoid scams, visit sce.com/scamalert.