How to Recognize Scam Artists

Posing as a phony utility employee, either in person, by email, or over the phone, is a classic scam. Someone calls you at home or knocks on your door claiming to be a utility employee. They sound professional and appear legitimate. So how can you tell a real Columbia River PUD employee from a scam artist?

If someone calls you on the phone:

  • Ask for verification: PUD employees who call customers will know the customer’s name, account number, account balance, and other information. If the caller asks YOU to provide these items or gives answers that don’t make sense, it’s probably a scam. If you are in doubt, hang up and call our Customer Accounts Department at (503) 397-0590.
  • Hang up and call back: If you have any doubt that a call is legitimate, hang up and call the PUD’s Customer Accounts Department at (503) 397-0590.
  • Don’t trust caller ID or recordings: Today’s technology makes it possible for scammers to use use local phone numbers on caller ID, and to copy phone system recordings. If you have any doubts about a conversation, hang up and call our Customer Accounts Department at (503) 397-0590.
  • Keep your information safe: Don’t give out any PUD account information, banking information, or credit card information unless you have verified the caller is legitimate.
  • You always have options: We offer several payment options, including local pay stations, paying in the office, paying online or paying over the phone. We will never demand that you make a payment only by credit card or prepaid credit card.
  • Please report scam calls: If you receive a suspicious call, write down the phone number from your caller ID and the number you are asked to call with your payment. Then, call local police and the PUD to report the incident.

If someone comes to your door:

  • Did you have an appointment? Are you expecting anyone from the PUD to come to your home? PUD employees who work with customers for energy audits, line extensions, or other projects that require home visits will always make appointments.
  • Look at the vehicle: PUD employees drive white vehicles with the PUD logo on the door.
  • Ask to see ID: Our employees always carry PUD photo identification cards.
  • Call for verification: To confirm the person at your door is a PUD employee, ask them to wait outside and give us a call at (503) 397-1844.
  • PUD employees don’t solicit: PUD employees do not go door-to-door to sell utility services, to request payment for tree trimming, to make in-home electrical repairs, or to solicit bill payments unannounced.
  • Please report scam artists: If you believe the person at your door is a scam artist posing as a utility employee, or that you have been the victim of a scam artist, call your local police department to report the incident.

If you receive an email:

  • If you are signed up for paperless billing: You will receive an email from us once a month letting you know your bill is available for viewing on Account Online. The safest way to respond to this email is to open a web browser and type in the address for Account Online: If the email message looks different or the information in it doesn’t match what you were expecting to see, the safest way to respond is to call us at (503) 397-0590 to see if the message was legitimate. If it wasn’t, delete it without replying.
  • If you aren’t signed up for paperless billing: If you don’t typically receive email communications from us, and you aren’t expecting an email from us, it’s likely a scam. Do not reply or click on any links in the email. Do not use any contact information provided in the email. Instead, contact us at (503) 397-1844 to confirm whether the email is legitimate. If it’s not, delete it without replying.