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PG&E scam affecting a local neighborhood in Bakersfield

Protecting your family and friends from scammers
Posted at 11:40 PM, Nov 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-15 03:06:39-05

"Be careful who you open the door to, they may look professional, and they may look clean cut, but that doesn't mean anything. I want to get the word out there about what's going on, because I don't want anyone to get hurt," said Cyndy Vondohlen, a homeowner who was approached by a man claiming to be an employee for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

On Tuesday, at 7 p.m. a man claiming to be a PG&E employee rang her doorbell and tried to convince her for ten minutes to let him in and give him personal information to help her save money on her bills. The problem is, he didn't have a proper badge, uniform and or company car. Red flags were everywhere for Vondohlen. 

She wasn't the only house that was approached. She said her 90-year-old neighbors also received a visit a couple of weeks ago, but it was a woman who stopped by. After the man stopped by her house, she called PG&E to confirm if he worked for the company and was told he did not. Vondohlen said, in the past month, three homes in the neighborhood were approached by people pretending to be PG&E employees.

When asked if Vondohlen would answer the door for someone she wasn't expecting, she said "No." 

"People are caring, but they need to be vigilant and cautious," said Vondohlen. 

With nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California that are PG&E customers, a visit from them is normal. How do you verify if they are a legit employee?

PG&E has a list of steps you can take to prevent door-to-door scammers.  

  • PG&E says that they will call 48 hours in advance to a service appointment and that's the first sign that an unannounced person may not be who they say they are.  
  • If someone approached your door, ask for an ID, and if the person is not willing to give you the name and number, then that's a red flag.
  • If the person offers their ID, but you are still unsure PG&E requests that you call in their customer service line 1-800-PGE-5000 to verify the employee, service appointment and presence in the area.

For additional ways to prevent PG&E scams online and on the phone visit their website.

Vondohlen said that the man who approached her house, not only flashed his ID quickly but also said he stopped by so late, because he had been visiting all the houses on that street. When she called all her closest neighbors, they said no one had stopped by that day. 

Police say that door-to-door scams happen year round. If someone approaches you or you see someone suspicious in your neighborhood, you can call the non-emergency number 661-327-7111. If you are in danger call 911.

Police say that thieves may also be observing the neighborhood to steal packages, especially around the holidays. If someone shows up unannounced, it's essential to be cautious and safe and you don't have to answer the door.

For more information on how to protect yourself from common holiday scams visit the Bakersfield Police Department E-Tips.