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PUD News

Don’t fall for it! Chelan PUD customers - watch out for scam calls

by Christy Shearer | Nov 09, 2018
Nov. 14 - Utilities United Against Scams Day

Image of a person holding a phone that says Phone ScamScammers are getting bolder and trying harder to get Chelan PUD customers to believe false claims that their utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if they don’t pay up right now.

Don’t fall for it!

“Scammers just never stop,” said Megan McCarty, from Chelan PUD Customer Relations. “But by being able to recognize a few warning signs, our customers can avoid becoming victims. We want to make sure they have that information.”

Chelan County PUD, a member of the award-winning Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), is continuing efforts to remind customers of the tactics scammers use to steal money from customers. Education on how to guard against falling victim to impostor utility scams is strong protection, McCarty said.

Wednesday, Nov. 14, is the third annual Utility Scam Awareness Day, part of a week-long advocacy and awareness campaign focused on exposing the tactics of scammers. Learn more about Chelan PUD anti-scam efforts at www.chelanpud.org/scams More than 100 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas companies (and their respective trade associations), join forces through UUAS. Chelan PUD has participated in the awareness event all three years.

Most utility scams involve criminals posing as electric, gas or water system employees—either in person or over the phone or internet—and demanding immediate payment via cash or reloadable debit cards, supposedly to prevent service disconnection. These unscrupulous criminals can be very convincing, and often target those who are most vulnerable, including the elderly and non-native English speakers. However, with the right information, customers can learn to avoid and report these predatory scams.

Here’s how Chelan PUD customers can protect themselves when targeted by utility scammers:

  • Hang up the phone or close the door, and call Chelan PUD’s direct phone number, (509) 663-8121. 
  • Do not give the caller or visitor cash, a prepaid card, such as a Green Dot card, a wire transfer, or any other form of payment that may be difficult to trace.
  • Ignore suspicious requests for personal information such as bank account numbers, user names and passwords, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers.
  • Delete any emails from utilities that are not your service provider.
  • Delete all suspicious emails that require immediate action to verify your account or demand personal information.
  • Report scam attempts to local police on the non-emergency line, or the state attorney general’s office, or contact the FTC: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

 

UUAS and its member companies have helped to shut down more than 2,200 Toll-Free Numbers used against utility customers by scammers. The group recently was awarded the Toll-Free Industry’s Fraud Fighter Award in recognition of its advocacy and awareness campaign to stop scams that target electric, water, and natural gas company customers.

When scam calls are reported to Chelan PUD, the utility shares that information right away, in English and Spanish, on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and the home page of the utility’s website, www.chelanpud.org.

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