August 3, 2007

Southern California Edison Warns Customers About Utility Impostors

Southern California Edison (SCE) is warning its customers about increased activity by scam artists impersonating SCE employees, including several attempts by impostors threatening service disconnections if a payment is not made quickly by unusual means such as Western Union or a cash card.

An impostor claiming to be an SCE employee recently defrauded a Santa Clarita small-business owner of $2,100. This type of scenario is a reminder to customers to be on the alert for scams that may result in financial harm.

"We are troubled when we hear of incidents like this," said Robert Sypult, SCE director of corporate security. "We care about our customers' safety and security and urge them to check out any situation that seems suspicious -- especially if it's a demand for payment or someone claiming to be an SCE employee asking for access to the home."

Some utility impostors work in pairs so that one can distract a victim while the other steals cash, jewelry or other items of value inside a home. Often, the victims are seniors, the disabled and those who don't speak or understand English well.

Customers always are encouraged to call SCE customer service to verify a disconnect order is pending, and to check identification before allowing anyone into their home. SCE employees wear uniforms and carry company identification.

Customers who encounter or suspect utility impostors are urged to immediately notify the police and call the utility. SCE's customer service number is (800) 655-4555. Customers also can see what an official SCE uniform looks like, as well as safety tips, on SCE's Web site at

When vendors hired by SCE visit customer homes or businesses to perform energy-efficiency improvements, the customer must first request such a visit.

SCE asks customers to keep these tips in mind to avoid becoming a victim of a scam:

SCE employees never demand that you wire money via Western Union or pre-paid credit cards to prevent your electricity being shut off.

Never reveal your credit card, automated teller machine card, telephone calling card or personal identification numbers to anyone, especially over the telephone.

Before paying bills at a store or business, customers can verify that a vendor is an SCE authorized payment agent by calling 800-655-4555.

SCE employees will not ask for money, a credit card or to use a customer's telephone.

Be suspicious if someone shows up without an appointment asking to check an appliance, wiring or suggesting another electrical problem may be inside your home.

Payments intended for SCE should only be made out to "Southern California Edison" or "SCE." You also can sign up for paperless and online billing and payment at

Do not let anyone into your home unless you can verify who they are, see the individual's identification and understand the purpose for the visit. SCE employees carry identification and will show it. Vendors working for SCE also will show identification.

If someone calls and requests you to leave your residence at a specific time for a utility-related cause, be sure to confirm the call with SCE. This could be a burglary set up by the caller.

If an incident does occur, report it to local police and contact SCE immediately.

An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation's largest electric utilities, serving a population of more than 13 million via 4.8 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.