Tag Archives: Southern California Edison

SCE Cautions Customers to Stay Alert Against Utility Bill Scam

Courtesy of the City of Eastvale

 Southern California Edison (SCE) continues to advise customers to stay vigilant and learn to protect themselves from a telephone bill scam that demands immediate payment for allegedly past-due electricity bills.

It’s getting costlier too since in April, SCE customers lost an estimated $27,000 to phone scams, an increase from $17,000 in March.

Recently, an SCE business customer was defrauded out of $3,000 after responding to a scam call. So far this month, more than 500 scam phone calls have been made to SCE customers, with some paying between $1,500-$3,000. Some customers have even reported seeing a red truck thought to be from SCE with the words “Service Disconnect” parked outside their homes or businesses.

Scammers also have created fake telephone lines and recordings that state: “Hello. Thank you for calling Southern California Edison Disconnection Department.” Another trick is telling customers local police will be called if they don’t pay immediately.

Many impostors urge customers to use a reloadable prepaid card to make payments.

“You should be leery of anyone who calls you asking for money. Utilities are not going to call and request payments over the telephone,” said Hector Tamayo, a detective with the Claremont Police Department. “The biggest red flag is when these callers request money on a reloadable prepaid card. Most people should be able to catch on when the caller is asking you to send a payment through a prepaid card.”

So how does the scam work? Phone impostors claiming to be with SCE call customers and fraudulently threaten to disconnect their electrical service unless immediate payment is made on a supposedly past-due bill. The caller demands payment immediately and tells the unsuspecting customer to buy a prepaid debit card — and there are many different kinds — and load a specific amount of money on it and call the impostor back, providing the serial number off the back of the card.

Once you give out the serial number, the cash is untraceable and gone for good.

And although more customers are learning to recognize phone scams, impostors continue to cheat people out of their money using more elaborate and deceptive ploys.

“We are doing what we can to inform our customers about these criminals so they don’t fall victim to their scams. We often include important information like this on our bill inserts, so I would encourage customers to review those pages of their monthly statements,” said Kari Gardner, manager, SCE Consumer Affairs. “Also, helping spread the word to their employees and their friends about these scams will help prepare them in the event they receive telephone calls from individuals demanding money for payment.”

SCE customers who suspect a fraudulent call should ask for the caller’s name, as well as their department and business phone number. End the call and report the incident immediately to local police or SCE at 1-800-655-4555. And never use the callback number provided by the caller. Instead, call the SCE phone numbers printed on your bill or go to the SCE website. Service representatives can assist customers in multiple languages.

If you do pay an impostor, call SCE to report the scam and provide the card number you used to pay the scammer. In addition, call your local law enforcement agency and file a police report for your loss.

Signs of a Scam

Here are a few red flags to help you spot a telephone bill scam.

Scam: Caller demands immediate payment with the threat of shutting off your utility service.

Fact: SCE never calls customers over the telephone to collect overdue bills and will never demand immediate payment with the threat of service disconnection

Scam: You’re instructed to buy a prepaid debit card at a store within the next 30-60 minutes and load it with money. 

Fact: SCE does not accept prepaid cards for bill payments.

Scam: Caller claims to be from SCE’s Disconnection Department.

Fact: SCE does not have a Disconnection Department.

Scam: Caller asks for money in person. 

Fact: SCE employees never ask for, or collect, money out in the field. 

Scam: You get a call on a weekend or holiday about an unpaid bill.

Fact: SCE does not conduct credit transactions on weekends or holidays.

Scam: You’re told a truck with SCE letters and Service Disconnect is en route to your home or business, or parked outside. 

Fact: SCE does not own or operate vehicles with Service Disconnection signage.

For more ways customers can protect themselves against scams, click here.

About Southern California Edison

An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.

SCE To Ontario:  No TRTP Undergrounding

By K.P. Sander

 

tehachapi-renewable-transmission-project

Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (Photo Courtesy: City of Ontario)

Ontario – The Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) has been under construction since September of 2013.  The Project’s objective is to deliver electricity from new wind farms in the Tehachapi area to Southern California Edison (SCE) customers in an effort to meet the State’s renewable energy goal of 33 percent by the year 2020.

There have been some ups and downs for SCE along the construction way.  The City of Chino Hills was granted a tower undergrounding proposal by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in July of 2013.  The decision for this approval stated that the burden imposed on the City by the overhead power lines was unfair and contrary to community values.  Chino Hills was granted the removal of a 3.5 mile tower section, and an underground cabling replacement.  This approval cost TRTP an additional $224 million, on top of the over $2 billion budget that will ultimately be passed on to ratepayers.

In a déjà vu-like attempt, the City of Ontario has stated that their situation is as bad, if not worse, than Chino Hills’.  When TRTP erected Ontario’s towers in April, the impact suddenly became very apparent.

Ontario reportedly asked for a stay of construction to sort things out, and the CPUC allowed legal proceedings to be reopened in October.

According to the City of Ontario, they filed an amended petition with the CPUC on Nov. 21 in order to modify the 500kV lines from tower construction to undergrounding – specifically Segment 8 of the Project.

With TRTP employing multiple public proceedings prior to construction, SCE is reportedly questioning why the City of Ontario did not come forward at that time, rather than after the fact. If the community is somewhat shocked as to the appearance of the towers and the proximity to new housing developments, more due diligence should have been completed up front. In essence, SCE’s answer to Ontario is, “No.”

Most recently, in a document submitted to the CPUC on Dec. 5, SCE attorney Angela Whatley stated, “A party that has not engaged in the proceedings should not be able to derail this crucial project at such a late stage in development.”

In October and November, legal staff at the City of Ontario consulted with the City of Chino Hills, and on Dec. 9, the Ontario City Council approved the hiring of an Environmental Engineer to review and analyze California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Mitigation Measures Compliance by SCE.  Council also approved the hiring of a Utilities Consultant to review and analyze easements for compliance and any title issues.

SCE filed requests on Dec. 5 that CPUC deny the City’s petition to underground, and to deny the construction stay.  On Dec. 15, Ontario filed documents to the contrary.

As it stands now, the CPUC will consider the documents filed by all parties in accordance with this case.  TRTP states that the CPUC is expected to rule on the requests within the next few months, with further hearings, as well as an absolute decision, a possibility.

TRTP is scheduled to be completed in 2016.