Pasadena Water and Power officials warned customers Tuesday of an increase in scams and attempted scams run by con artists pretending to be utility workers amid the pandemic.
Whether through phone calls, online solicitations or home visits, scammers pose as representatives of PWP or other utilities in order to trick victims into handing over money or personal information, the agency said in a written statement.
“During this public health crisis, there may be an increase in scam attempts. Remember that PWP has suspended all utility shutoffs and will NOT call customers demanding payment,”the statement said.
Common cons include demanding immediate payment under threat of service cut-off, promoting purported assistance programs in order to obtain victims’ social security numbers and banking information and posing as meter readers or inspectors to gain access to victims’ homes, officials said.
“PWP does not notify customers of their account status by phone,” according to the statement. “Customers with delinquent accounts will receive a ‘Final Notice’ and ‘Disconnect Notice’ from PWP by U.S. Mail notifying them of their account status. Delinquent payments must be made in person at the City Hall Municipal Services counter, online via customer login, or by phone at 626-744-4005.”
Among recent fraud attempts:
• A caller claiming to represent “The Business Center” is instructing customers to call 800-506-0338 in order to make payments. PWP officials said the agency does not contact customers from an “800” area code.
• Calls from 800-401-3978 and 866-815-3032 demanded payments and threatened to shut off services.
• Several customers have reported receiving calls from 800-309-0160, which demanded they pay large bills amounting to over $1,500 or face immediate service shutoff.
• A scammer has been seen “spoofing” PWP’s phone number, making it appear as if the calls were originating from PWP’s customer service line, 626-744-4005, which appears on victims caller IDs.
Anyone who suspects they’re being targeted by scammers was urged to contact PWP Customer Service at 626-744-4005.
Those victimized by this type of scam are urged to contact the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov.