HACIENDA HEIGHTS, Calf. (KABC) -- The holidays are a busy time for local businesses - and for scam artists.
Three weeks ago, Jyotsna Maru received a call at her Baskin-Robbins franchise in Hacienda Heights from someone pretending to be from Southern California Edison.
"They called the store and they talked to one of the employees. They told him that you haven't paid the bill. If you don't pay the bill in one hour we are going to turn off the electricity," said Maru.
Luckily, this wasn't Maru's first time dealing with such a scam. She says she contacted Edison, confirmed her account was current, and then called the scammer back.
"I got all the information from them. Where I should call... how much to pay," she said.
The information she collected from the scammer was turned over to Edison. In the past, Edison has been able to get fraudulent phone numbers shut down. The utility company says the scam is not new.
"This year, so far we have about 600 of our customers who have been contacted and scammed out of money by these criminals," said Kari Gardener with Southern California Edison consumer division.
Edison estimates its customers have been scammed out of $500,000. They are also warning victims of the recent wildfires to be on alert for scams where they are told to pay money upfront to have their power turned back on.
"Scammers (are) trying to reach out and prey on them at this time," said Gardner. "Take a moment, step back and reach out and verify that you do not owe the money these people are asking you to pay."
Edison has 24-hour service representatives to help customers verify their account balances. Customers can also log into their accounts to check to see if they are current with their bill.
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