OPINION: Please beware of utility scam attempts
Scam phone calls seem to be getting more and more common. We receive reports from our customers receiving them on a regular basis.
Usually, the voice on the other end of the line — either prerecorded or a live human — makes some threat about shutting off the power if you don't make a payment in a certain amount of time.
Rest assured, this is not our practice. We will never call you and threaten to disconnect your power if you don't send immediate payment.
Other electricity-related scams demand that you pay with a prepaid credit card. Again, this is not something we do. We offer a variety of payment options.
Scammers have become more sophisticated recently and they are able to spoof phone numbers or organizations that show up on caller ID. So it may actually appear that a phone call is coming from us when in fact it is not.
If you receive a suspicious call about your account, the best thing to do is hang up and call us back directly at 503-397-0590. Don't worry — if it actually was us that you hung up on, we won't be offended.
We want to ensure you protect yourself against scam attempts like these. Here are a few more ways you can stay safe against electricity-related scams:
• Don't give out any PUD account information, banking information, or credit card information unless you have verified that it is actually us calling.
• Ask for verification. We will know your name, account number, account balance, and other information. If a caller asks you to provide these items or gives answers that don't make sense, there's a good chance it's a scam.
• If you receive a suspicious call, please write down the number on your caller ID and the number you are asked to call with payment. Then, call your local police and the PUD to report the incident.
If you receive an unexpected text message claiming to be from the PUD, that is likely a scam as well. Currently, customers must opt-in to receive text messages from us. If you have not opted into this program, you will not receive text messages from us. So if a text message pops up on your phone demanding payment, it is likely a scam that should be ignored.
Again, we ask that you report the scam attempt to your local police and to us.
Please keep you and all of your sensitive personal information safe. If you ever have any doubt about who's contacting you, get ahold of us right away.
Michael J. Sykes is general manager of the Columbia River People's Utility District.
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