NW utilities warn of scam calls, e-mails
Callers claim to be customer service reps, demand payment
Pacific Power warned the public Tuesday of a phone scam targeting utility customers in Central Oregon where crooks posing as customer service agents are trying to get money and steal personal information.
Scammers call customers claiming to be from their local electric company. They tell the potential victim that they need to pay a special deposit for a new meter installation.
The scam caller advises the customer to make a payment either immediately on the phone, 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 customer relationships and reputation," said Karen Gilmore, Pacific Power's vice president of customer service.
Customers should never provide unsolicited callers or visitors with credit card numbers or any other information that may compromise their financial security.
Anyone receiving such calls or other forms of contact regarding their utility account or 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 their utility provider.
Also, Portland General Electric (NYSE:POR), Northwest Natural Gas Company, dba NW Natural (NYSE:NWN), and Pacific Power said Tuesdsy their customers are targets of a widespread scam over email.
The scam emails have so far claimed to be from Atmos Energy, a natural gas utility based in Dallas, Texas and PG&E, a combined natural gas and electric utility in San Francisco, California, that is not affiliated with PGE in Oregon. The emails have been sent to people throughout the United States including to customers of PGE, NW Natural and Pacific Power.
The fraudulent billing message tells customers that their Atmos or PG&E bill is ready and provides a hyperlink to view it. If the recipient clicks on the link, it takes them to a compromised website that harbors malware. Anyone who receives this email should not click on any hyperlinks.
If PGE, NW Natural or Pacific Power customers are not sure about the authenticity of an email that appears to come from their utility, they are encouraged to go directly to the PGE website, www.portlandgeneral.com, NW Natural website, www.nwnatural.com, or Pacific Power website, www.pacificpower.net where they can log into their accounts and review their statements.
If you have any questions regarding this scam, customers can also contact PGE customer service at 503-228-6322 or 800-542-8818, NW Natural at 800-422-4012 or Pacific Power at 888-221-7070.
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