Almanac

News - June 25, 2014

Scam targets Menlo Park businesses

by Sandy Brundage

A caller posing as a Pacific Gas & Electric employee has threatened at least three Menlo Park businesses with shutting off their power in one hour if a supposedly late bill is not paid, according to the police.

The first business reported the call on June 16. One of the three targets did pay up, to the tune of $500, police said. The caller asked for different methods of payment during each conversation — one business owner was asked to pay by money order; another to purchase two gift cards through Green Dot; and the third, by buying a Visa gift card.

The Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce sent out a warning on Friday, June 20, and described the legitimate steps that will occur should a business owe payment on an outstanding account balance. According to PG&E, a letter will be sent seven days before any disconnection, followed by a 24-hour notice and an automated phone call.

At no time will a live operator contact the business demanding payment. Acceptable forms of payment include credit cards, debit cards, pre-paid gift cards, and electronic checks, according to the utility company, but never money orders or fund transfers to a PayPal account.

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