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Watch Out for Utility Company Scam Hitting WA, OR!

Scammers targeting utility customers
(Getty Images)

If you receive a phone call demanding immediate payment for your utilities, don’t bite on it.

A warning has been issued by the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission about a new scam making the rounds.

Dozens of calls have been received by citizens claiming they got a phone call from someone claiming to be from a person who says they are with the citizen’s local utility company.

They use a variety of techniques to try to make the victim believe they are behind on their bill, and unless they make immediate payment, their electricity will be shut off.   The scammers are utilizing Pay-Pal or Green Dot money cards.   They ask the person to put money on the card, or send funds to a certain address via Pay-Pal.

A preliminary investigation shows the addresses and information being used for the money are fraudulent.    Using a technique called “spoofing”,  the scammers are able to get the local utility company number to show up on the victim’s caller ID.  Some calls have been reported to have been received on cellphones of person’s who don’t have a landline.

For example,  local callers may see the number of the Benton or Franklin PUD on the phone, but it’s not really them.   NO utility company will ever employ such tactics to get someone to pay a bill, even if it’s late.

People who receive such calls are asked to try to gather as much information from the scammer as possible, and immediately report all information to the Utility Commission at 1-888-333-WUTC, or see their website online.

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