Scammers Targeting Local Businesses & Residents

October 31, 2017 – Scammers have mimicked Columbia River PUD’s phone system in an attempt to trick local businesses and residents into giving them money.

Several local businesses contacted the PUD this morning to report that scammers had left them messages overnight, or had called them today. In the messages, customers were directed to call an 866 number with payment or their power would be shut off. Those who called the number heard the PUD’s phone recording, but were then connected to the scammer’s call center. The PUD does not have a toll-free number.

Midday, residential customers began reporting similar calls. Those calls had a caller ID of “Columbia River 503-397-1844” but were not from the PUD.

“These scams are getting more sophisticated, which puts our customers at greater risk,” Community & Public Relations Supervisor Libby Calnon said. “It’s frustrating for our customers, and for us.”

Customers who receive a call from someone claiming to represent the PUD are urged to follow these steps:

  • 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.
  • 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 local phone numbers on caller ID, and to copy phone system recordings. If you have any doubts that you are speaking to the PUD, hang up and call the PUD’s 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.
    For more information about scam artists, visit