LOS ANGELES, CA – With the scorching heat that hit California the past few months, consumers may see high spikes in their utility bills. This sudden increase can cause several problems: the consumer may be unable to pay their bill, the consumer may be dropped from their California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) discount program, or the consumer may be in jeopardy of disconnection.

When a CARE consumer uses over 400% of their Tier 1 Baseline Allowance, the consumer will receive a letter from their energy company warning the consumer of their high energy usage. If the consumer fails to complete the verification forms by the deadline, the consumer can lose their CARE discount and be banned from applying to the program for 2 years.

There is also an alarming need for consumers to check their most recent utility bills because of unauthorized charges appearing from an unfamiliar company. In some cases, sales representatives of these third-party companies have pretended to be affiliated with the consumer’s regular utility company. Misleading sales tactics can happen door to door or over the phone – in English or in Tagalog. It is very important that consumers are aware of scams because these third-party companies may mislead the consumer to switch gas companies without the account holder’s permission or without fully disclosing the details of the contract.

With over 10 years of consumer advocacy experience, a non-profit organization Campaign for Social Justice continues to provide free assistance to any consumer of any income level, any background, and any language. Trained staff are available to resolve problems with different utility companies and in different languages such as Spanish and Tagalog. “May marami tayong kababayan na hindi pa alam kung saan sila pupunta kung nahihirapan sila sa kanilang mga ‘bill’ says Ivy Daulo, a Filipino outreach worker at CSJ. “Kung minsan, sa halip na magtanong tungkol sa mga singil na hindi nila sinasangayunan, humihiram sila sa mga kamag-anak o kaibigan upang maiwasan ang pagputol ng kanilang serbisyo. Kaya lang, sayang kasi mayroon naman programa na puwedeng tumulong sa kanila at libre pa.”[“There are many fellow Filipinos that still do not know where to go if they are having a hard time with their bills,” says Ivy Daulo, “A Filipino outreach worker at CSJ. “Sometimes, instead of asking about charges that they do not agree with, they borrow money from relatives or friends. It’s unfortunate because there programs that can help them, and it’s free.”]

CSJ has helped hundreds of families and individuals resolve issues with phone and utility companies. This free assistance is made possible through the program Community Help and Awareness of Natural Gas and Electricity Services (CHANGES). If consumers do not agree with certain charges on a bill or would like to inquire about financial assistance, CSJ can offer confidential help. Consumers can call CSJ directly with any questions about their bills with Southern California Gas or Southern California Edison. Please contact Ivy Daulo at (323) 987-8238 or email csj.ivy@gmail.com for more information.