’Tis the Season to Be Wary

Customers should be alert this time of year when utility phone scams spike.
Skip to content
Stories : Safety
Stories : Safety

’Tis the Season to Be Wary

Customers should be alert this time of year when utility phone scams spike.
Photo Credit: Elisa Ferrari

Jyotsna Maru panicked when she was told her Southern California Edison bill was late and that her electricity would be shut off in one hour unless she paid $498.78 immediately.

“I’m thinking, oh my God, I’m going to lose my ice cream,” said the Hacienda Heights Baskin-Robbins owner. 

John Lee, owner of Jinza Teriyaki in Pomona, has been targeted by scammers who demanded immediate payment for a false late bill with a prepaid cash card.
John Lee, owner of Jinza Teriyaki in Pomona, has been targeted by scammers who demanded immediate payment for a false late bill with a prepaid cash card.

John Lee, owner of Jinza Teriyaki restaurant in Pomona, recalled getting a phone call about a supposed delinquent bill.“The caller was asking me for my account number. I told him he should have it since he worked for Edison. He said his computer was down,” said Lee.

“I went online to check my account while I was talking to him and saw that my account was current. He kept asking me for personal information. I knew it was a scam.”  

Edison’s Consumer Affairs manager Kari Gardner, third from left, warns SCE customers and the general public to stay alert this holiday season when utility phone scams increase. Joining her left to right: Jyotsna Maru, Baskin-Robbins shop owner; Stephanie Orrick, FBI; detective Wayne Countryman, L.A. County Sheriff’s Industry Station, an L.A. County Sheriff’s associate; and John Lee, owner of Jinza Teriyaki in Pomona.
SCE Consumer Affairs manager Kari Gardner, third from left, warns SCE customers and the general public to stay alert this holiday season when utility phone scams increase. 

This year, more than 15,000 SCE customers have received phone calls from impostors claiming to be from SCE. They were told their bill was late and their service would be disconnected within an hour or less unless they made an immediate payment with a prepaid cash card. Regrettably, more than 600 SCE customers have been scammed, collectively losing more than $500,000.  

This holiday season, SCE reminds customers and the general public to stay alert and beware of impostors posing as SCE representatives and asking for money. Authorities say this is the time of year utility phone scams spike. For those affected by the recent wildfires, as well as for the general public, scam awareness is key to avoid becoming a victim.

What You Should Know:

  •   SCE never calls customers on the telephone and threatens to disconnect their service unless they make an immediate payment.
  • SCE does not accept prepaid cash cards for bill payments.
  • SCE has no Disconnection Department.
  • SCE never gives customers’ personal information to anyone.
  • SCE does not charge customers to replace or update smart meters or other SCE-owned equipment.
  • SCE personnel will never ask for payment for services in the field.
  • Never be in a rush to pay money to unsolicited callers on the telephone.
  • Verify your billing/account information by calling SCE at 1-800-655-4555 (residential customers) or 1-800-990-7788 (business customers).
  • Never use the callback number provided by the scammer. Instead, call the number printed on your SCE bill or the number on SCE’s website.
  • If scammed, call your local law enforcement agency and file a report. Also call SCE’s call center at 1-800-655-4555.

To learn more about scam awareness and how to recognize a scam, visit on.sce.com/ScamAlert. Scam information is available to customers in multiple languages.