Puget Sound Energy reminds consumers to be on alert for imposters fraudulently claiming to be from the utility and demanding immediate payment with the threat to shut off utility services.
Along with more than 100 electric, natural gas and water utilities across the country and Canada, PSE this week is participating in the Utilities United Against Scams national campaign focused on promoting awareness of telephone scams that threaten to shut off utility services for a past-due bill and demand immediate payment by way of a credit card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer, according to a PSE press release.
“We continue to see high levels of scams targeting our customers,” PSE customer care director Greg Zeller said in the release. “Our customers should know they will receive several contacts from PSE through correspondence and other means about an unpaid bill. Warning signs of a scam are a threatening call urging immediate payment and instructions to purchase a pre-paid money or debit card available at stores, and then to call back with the card information, which gives scammers access to the card’s funds. Customers should hang up immediately and contact PSE.”
Of the nearly 1,500 scam incidents reported this year by PSE customers, 60 made the payments the scammers demanded.
WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE SCAMS
According to the release, thieves are using sophisticated, deceptive tactics to manipulate caller ID systems to make it appear a call is coming from a legitimate company when it’s not. It’s always best to call an actual company to verify an inquiry.
If a phone call seems suspicious, it probably is. Customers should hang up and report the incident to PSE at 1-888-225-5773. Don’t provide any personal information to anyone unless you’re certain you know who you’re speaking with.
PSE customers should know they would receive several communications related to bill payment before any disruption in service.
PSE never asks or requires customers who have delinquent accounts to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
When it comes to bill payment calls, PSE vendors do not call after noon on Saturdays and do not make any calls on Sundays; any calls during those periods are red flags.
Anyone receiving such calls or other contact regarding their utility account or bill is encouraged to make note of any information, such as the phone number they are asked to call, a number that appears on caller ID or an address where they’re told to send money.
PSE encourages customers to report suspicious, fraudulent calls and emails to the Washington attorney general’s office and the Federal Trade Commission.