(BCN)– PG&E officials say they have seen a doubling of the number of attempted scams reported by consumers in 2022. The holiday season has seen a high volume of reports of scammers impersonating the utility trying to take advantage of customers in the PG&E’s service area of Northern and Central California.

The number of reports increased from a little more than 11,000 in 2021 to more than 23,000 in 2022 just through October. Utility officials anticipate scammers will be even busier in December and January.

The highest number of scams in the Bay Area have occurred in San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland. PG&E noted that the numbers do not capture the full extent of overall scam attempts, as many go unreported.

PG&E provided some methods consumers can use to avoid being scammed, including a list of signs of a potential scam:

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-Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively demand immediate payment for an alleged past due bill.

-Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment.

-Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds.

-Refund or rebate offers: Scammers may say that your utility company overbilled you and owes you a refund, or that you are entitled to a rebate.

“Avoiding a scam is as simple as hanging up the phone,” said Aaron Johnson, PG&E Bay Area regional vice president. Utility officials said signing up for an online account at pge.com is another safeguard.

For more information about scams, visit pge.com/scams or consumer.ftc.org. Not only can customers log in to check their balance and payment history, but they can also sign up for recurring payments, paperless billing and helpful alerts.

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