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Beware of Scammers Posing as Utility Workers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Andres Chavez, Sun Staff Reporter   
Thursday, 17 May 2012 02:23

The Southern California Gas Company issued a warning Tuesday to all of its customers and the residents of Southern California about a scam possibly working it's way west. The scam claims that President Barack Obama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills.

In some cases, scammers have asked for social security numbers in order to allow for credits or to apply payments to customers' utility bills, presenting an identity-theft risk. According to reports, scammers have visited customers in person, posted fliers and used social media and texting to send messages claiming that President Obama will provide a credit or directly pay utility bills.

These claims are lies. Although this scam hasn't hit California, "We wanted to be proactive and let our customers know in case the scam became more prevalent in our area," said Southern California Gas Company spokesperson Anne Silva.

Silva emphasized that So Cal Gas Co. employees are easily identified. "The majority of our employees are in uniform with the company logo, they carry an official employee badge and most employees drive a company vehicle," Silva said.

Here are some other tips for customers to protect themselves.

• Be vigilant and question anyone who presents themselves as a representative of the utility.

• SoCalGas workers who perform in-home appliance services, work on gas meters or work on gas pipelines wear uniforms. However, some other employees do not. Always ask for identification before allowing anyone inside the home or on the property.

• The majority of authorized SoCalGas employees will be in uniform with company logo and carry an official employee badge. Most field employees also drive a company vehicle.

• Most of the time a SoCalGas employee visits a home or business in response to a service request. If no one scheduled an appointment, call SoCalGas before allowing anyone inside the home or property.

• Never leave the house unlocked and unattended. SoCalGas does not ask customers to leave their homes unattended.

Silva stated that Gas Company employees will be patient while the customer verifies their identity with the Gas Company. Scammers, she reminds, are "fraudulent folks that will take advantage of people, sometimes the elderly or people who are perhaps very trusting.

"What we've found is that some of these scams really gain momentum because they are also saying that it's a President Obama program, some folks may have a tendency to believe that, so we just want to caution everybody," she said.

To verify the authenticity of anyone claiming to be a representative of SoCalGas, people are encouraged to ask for proper identification or call the utility at 1- 800-427-2200. In Spanish 1- 800-342-4545. SoCalGas customer service representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Also visit socalgas.com/safety for more information.

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