Portland, Ore. — Portland General Electric and Pacific Power are participating in Utilities United Against Scams Awareness Day on Wednesday, Nov. 14. During this national campaign, local utilities are working together to spread awareness on how to avoid becoming a victim of scams targeting utility customers.
Thieves impersonating electric company employees typically target customers via phone calls, texts, social media messages, emails and by knocking on doors. A common tactic used by impostors is to threaten to disconnect service immediately if payment is not made, usually with a prepaid credit card. Prepaid cards are not traceable and give the scammer instant access to the victim’s money.
Scammers are getting smarter every day, finding convincing ways to target those who are most vulnerable in local communities. They often prey on senior citizens, low-income families, non-English speakers and small business owners. With the right information, customers can learn to detect fraudulent activity.
PGE and Pacific Power encourage customers to be aware of these tips to protect themselves against scams:
Legitimate utility companies will never ask for payment via prepaid credit card. Utility companies offer a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online or by phone. However, payment via prepaid card will never be demanded and customers should never agree to the immediate purchase of a prepaid card.
Contact the utility company if someone threatens immediate disconnection. Customers will never receive just a single notification with one hour or less to respond. They can take their time and ask questions. A legitimate utility company employee will allow customers to call the office to discuss arrangements.
Ask to see the employee’s badge if they come to the door. The badge will have their name, photo, company logo and a verification number that customers can use to confirm they are an official employee. If customers feel threatened or uncomfortable, they should not open the door or hand over money. They should call 911 if at any point they are concerned about their safety.
Call the utility company to verify account information using the number on the monthly bill or company website. Customers should avoid calling the phone number provided by a suspected scammer.
Contact the utility company and local law enforcement if a scam is suspected or to report suspicious behavior.
For additional tips from Utilities United Against Scams and details about the week-long national advocacy campaign, visit utilitiesunited.org or join the conversation by using #StopScams.
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