The Canby Area Chamber of Commerce has released a statement warning Canby Utility users about the return of a telephone scam that came around last summer. The chamber has received reports from small businesses that they were contacted by someone who identified themselves as a utility representative. It is not clear if the scam artists know the boundary between Canby Utility and Portland General Electric because often they will mention PGE.

The scam artist poses as a utility employee asking for payment for a past due utility bill and stating service will be shut off if not paid in a short amount of time – as little as 30 minutes. In many cases reported over the past year, the customer was not past due on their account; however, if a person does get a call from the scam artist and their bill is past due, it may be difficult for the customer to know the difference.

Customers have been asked to pay by credit and debit cards or by purchasing a prepaid card and calling them back as soon as they have it. Be aware that the scammers have discovered technology that makes Canby Utility’s phone number appear on the customer’s Caller ID, but they give the customer another number to call them back.

On occasion, the caller will arrange to contact the customer later in the day to get their card number for payment. In either case, Canby Utility does not ask customers to pay their bill using a prepaid card. Canby Utility does accept payments over the phone with most credit and debit cards. Customers have been tricked into thinking that the caller is legitimate because the customer may share recent payment information or other identifiable characteristics with the caller early in the conversation that is used later in the call to convince the customer it is a real utility employee.

Keep this situation in mind, though the actual scenario could vary.

It is important to know who you are talking to at all times. If contacted by a suspicious caller, ask for the caller’s name and number. If their telephone number is different than 503-266-1156, hang up and immediately report it to a Canby Utility. If it is confirmed that you were contacted by someone involved with the scam, report it to the Canby Police Department. At any time, if the customer is concerned that it could be a potential scam, tell the caller that you’ll call them back and do so using Canby Utility’s main number.

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