SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --Bay Area residents are getting calls and emails lately saying they owe back payments to PG&E even though they've paid their bills.
A San Francisco woman wanted us to alert you to this problem. She had just returned from a trip overseas when she was suddenly faced with a threat. If she didn't act fast, her electricity would shut off.
Linda Kittlitz had barely recovered from jet lag when she got a shocking phone call.
"'I'm Bruno from PG&E. I'm getting ready to come over and turn off your power, unless you pay your bill,' and I'm like, 'What?'" Kittlitz said.
Kittlitz was sure she'd paid the bills before her vacation, or did she? Bruno gave her a number to call.
"And, I get ahold of this guy named James and he says, 'Yeah, you owe us two months' payments.' I said, 'Wait a minute! No I don't!'" Kittlitz said.
She went online and found proof -- two checks paid to PG&E.
Kittlitz recalls she said, "'The checks were cashed, I don't owe you money.' And he said, 'Yes you do. It went to the wrong account.'"
The man said any mistake would be cleared up later, but right now she had to pay. She was told to take money over to a CVS Pharmacy and pay it there. She questioned why not go to PG&E and the caller tried to convince her "because this is a different situation."
The man said his technician was about to cut the power and she had to act quickly.
"So I hustle. I take a shower real quick. I don't even wash my hair... and the phone rings. It's Bruno the technician calling me back," she said.
Kittlitz was arguing with Bruno trying to get more time, when a girlfriend called on the other line.
"I said, 'Gwen, you're not going to believe what happened,'" she said.
The friend told Kittlitz to call PG&E directly. Kittlitz called the number on her bill and got a surprising prompt: "For calls about a suspicious email or phone call, press three." The recording said, "PG&E is aware of a new phone scam targeting our customers and residents across the country."
PG&E confirmed Kittlitz doesn't owe a dime. Those calls were a scam. She barely escaped it. Then, the scammer called back.
"He said, 'This is Bruno. Are you leaving?' I said, 'Bruno, I know this is a scam!'" Kittlitz said.
She called 7 On Your Side to warn everyone you might get a call too.
"They are so good at what they do and say to you on the telephone, you can fall for it easily," Kittlitz warns.
PG&E says it will never call or email customers threatening to cut off your power. Certainly it would never demand people pay cash at a drugstore. Con artists are also out there claiming to be from the phone company. Do not fall for that one either. If you're unsure, call the number on your bill or call 7 On Your Side and we'll help you.