St. Helens, OR - A scammer called a Columbia River People's Utility District (PUD) customer on Friday and claimed that the customer had to pay $350 for meter repairs or her electric service would be disconnected.
Fortunately, the customer recognized it was a scam and hung up on the caller. The PUD owns the electric meters at customer homes, and would only charge a customer for repairs if the customer willfully tampered with or damaged the meter.
"Scams like this are becoming more and more common," said PUD Accounting & Customer Accounts Manager Sheila Duehring. "Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to verify whether the person is actually from the PUD."
The PUD offers these suggestions for confirming the identity of someone claiming to represent the PUD:
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.
Don't trust caller ID. Today's technology makes it possible for scammers to use a fake number on the caller ID. 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 of your PUD account information, banking information, or credit card information unless you have verified the caller is legitimate.
You always have options: The PUD offers several payment options, including local pay stations, paying in the office, paying online or paying over the phone. The PUD 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 call the PUD office at (503) 397-0590.
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.
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: https://www.crpud.net/bill. 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) 397-0590 to confirm whether the email is legitimate. If it's not, delete it without replying.