Crime - Sacto 911

SMUD warns of scammers demanding payment, threatening loss of service

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Wind storms on Saturday, Dec. 16 kept SMUD crews busy repairing damage to poles and power lines.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is warning customers of scammers claiming to represent the utility and threatening to disconnect service unless immediate payments are made.

A common scheme involves scammers who contact a customer – sometimes from a phone number that appears to be SMUD’s customer service number – and threaten disconnection if a payment is not made immediately with a prepaid debit card, often at a “pay station” such as a CVS or Safeway store, according to to a SMUD news release. The utility notes that these stores, as well as Walgreens and Rite Aid, are not SMUD-authorized pay stations.

Some scammers have directed victims to make cash payments in person at a public location.

The scammer demands that the customer call back a non-SMUD phone number with payment details. When the customer calls the number, it is answered with a recording of SMUD’s phone-based customer service menu. But when the customer chooses a menu option, the call goes to voicemail or is answered by a scammer posing as a SMUD employe.

SMUD stresses that its employees will never call customers and direct them to a non-SMUD faciity or require a specific payment method, such as cash, wire payment or money card.

A list of authorized SMUD payment stations is available online, at smud.org/Pay. SMUD does not accept payment via Green Dot, Money Pak, MoneyGram or Reloadit.

Customers who receive suspicious calls are advised to ask for the caller’s name and phone number, then hang up and call SMUD at one of the utility’s published numbers: 888-742-7683 for residential customers, or 877-622-7683 for business customers.

Customers can also email the information to SMUD at scamreporting@smud.org.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

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