Briefing Room: Nov. 16 to 20 is Utility Scam Week

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Hello again Sun Readers!

As we’ve discussed in the past, there are bad people in our society who will seek to take advantage of people even when things are as uncertain and hectic as they are this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seemed to mobilize these criminals to take advantage of Southern Californians by targeting them for utilities bill phone scams.

What are utility scams?  Essentially, a criminal will pretend to be a representative from a utility company and will attempt to trick unsuspecting residents into believing that there is problem with their account, their utilities will be shut off if they don’t pay extra money, or seek to gain a “customer’s” personal identifying information such as dates of birth or social security numbers.

November 16-20, 2020 is Utility Scam Awareness Week.  Southern California Edison reports that their customers have reported being victimized for about $300,000 just this year alone in utility scams.  The top 10 cities reporting scams to Southern California Edison are:

• Fontana

• Hemet

• Huntington Beach

• Irvine

• Long Beach

• Moreno Valley

• Ontario

• San Bernardino

• Santa Ana

• Whittier

Many of these cities are near our town of Seal Beach.

The SBPD has seen residents, especially elderly members of our community, become victims of these scams.  Southern California Edison wants to remind customers that:

• SCE does not have a “disconnection department.”

• SCE will never demand an immediate payment with the threat of disconnection.

• SCE does not accept prepaid cash cards or bitcoins for bill payments.

• SCE will never ask for your credit card or account information over the phone.

• SCE employees will not demand to collect, or accept, payment in the field.

If you believe that you are being targeted by a criminal for a utility scam, please contact the SBPD immediately.

An officer will respond and help to determine if the call is a valid utility call or a criminal attempting to scam you out of your money. Our non-emergency number is 562-594-7232. For more information specific to Southern California Edison, please visit www.sce.com/scamalert.

Lastly, it has been a few weeks since we’ve received any questions.  Please send me your questions so that I have something more exciting to write about!  Email askacop@sealbeachca.gov.  Thanks!