PORTLAND, Ore. - Pacific Power warned customers and the public Thursday to be wary of giving their information out, especially right now, because of a phone scam targeting utility customers in Oregon and Washington. Crooks are posing as customer service agents and trying to get money and steal personal information.
"We urge our customers to be extremely careful always, but especially right now," said Karen Gilmore, vice president of customer service. "Scammers have hit customers in Walla Walla and Astoria and may be targeting other communities as well. Please be on guard, demand verification. Our employees would not be using these tactics."
Customers should never provide unsolicited callers or visitors with credit card numbers or any other information that may compromise their financial security. Switching to paperless billing may also provide more security by avoiding potential theft of utility bills from the mail box or trash can.
This is how the scam is being run: Scammers call customers claiming to be from Pacific Power. The scammers say the customer has past due payments and is in jeopardy of being disconnected. The caller advises the customer to make a payment either immediately on the phone via credit card, by calling a special number or by going to a local store to purchase a pre-paid card and calling back with the code.
Utility customers should be aware this is not a legitimate request and Pacific Power does not follow this practice.
When Pacific Power contacts a customer, the representative will always have the customer's account number. Even then, if you are contacted by phone and have any concerns about the validity of the call, it is always appropriate to let the caller know you prefer to call them back at the utility's published customer service number.
Pacific Power can be reached any time, toll free at 1-888-221-7070.
"These scammers are in no way associated with our company and we take very seriously any efforts to defraud our customers, especially using our company's good name and customer relationships," said Gilmore.
Anyone receiving such calls or other forms of contact regarding their utility bill is encouraged to pay close attention to any information - such as the phone number they are asked to call, a number that appears on caller ID, an address where they're told to send money - and to report the incident to local police and Pacific Power.