PUD Warns Customers of Phone Scam

November 14, 2013 – Columbia River PUD customers should be wary of giving out information over the telephone because of a scam targeting utility customers across the United States, and in the greater Portland metropolitan area.

This week, a Clark Public Utilities customer reported receiving a call threatening to disconnect power if payment wasn’t made immediately. The scam caller identified himself as a representative of PG&E. The scammer used Columbia River PUD’s 24-hour information number as his caller ID number, but gave a separate number to call with the payment information.

This type of scam has been perpetrated within Columbia County on at least two separate occasions this year. PUD customers reported receiving similar calls in April and again in August.

“These scams seem to be growing more common,” said PUD Accounting and Customer Service Manager Sheila Duehring. “If you have any doubts about a caller’s identity, don’t give them any information, and do not pay them.”

Customers who receive suspicious phone calls are encouraged to note the phone number on their caller ID, the phone number they are asked to call with the payment information, and any other information that the caller provides. End the call without providing any information to the caller and then contact the local police and the PUD at (503) 397-0590 to report the call.

The PUD provides several types of notification to customers who are facing disconnection for nonpayment, including mailed notices, door hangers and phone calls. The PUD also offers several payment options, including visiting local pay stations, visiting the PUD office, or paying online at www.crpud.net.

“We would never demand a payment only by credit card or prepaid credit card,” said Duehring. “We’ll always offer other payment options, so if that’s the only choice being offered, it’s not the PUD calling you.”

If you receive a suspicious call:

  • Don’t trust the number you see on the caller ID; it can easily be faked.
  • Write down the phone number you are asked to call with payment information.
  • Write down any other information the caller provides.
  • Hang up and call the police and the PUD to report the call.

Learn more about how to recognize scam artists