et a weird call from Pacific Power recently? You're not alone. At least a dozen suspicious calls have been reported across Central Oregon this past week. Callers alleged scammers posing as utility representatives threaten to immediately disconnect service if the caller does not wire immediate payment.
"It's a pervasive national problem," says Pacific Power Spokesperson Tom Gauntt. "On average, the scammers ask for between $400-500, telling the customer they are behind on their bill and that power is about to be shut off." He continues, "No one wants to be left in the dark, so some comply with the request."
Customers reported that callers said they were from the "Pacific Power Disconnection Department," a department that does not exist. The organization says that they will never ask for your credit card number or a prepaid card from a store and that if a customer has not received a prior notice of failure of payment, it will never threaten to immediately disconnect service."W
e don't threaten our customers. Instead, we work with customers who are behind on their payments to help them get back on track," Pacific Power wrote in a Oct. 16 notice. "Generally, notices about past due bills are sent to customers in the mail or delivered to their home, or they receive an automated phone message."
Gauntt says small business owners have been the majority of reported targets, possibly due to a scammer targeting an employee who is unaware of the businesses' current utility bill status. "If you're a microbrewery in Bend, then you'd rather pay the bill right away than risk losing 10,000 gallons of beer, right?" he says. "They then track it and figure out they've been scammed."
If you receive one of these calls, ask the caller to state your account number and compare it with the number listed on your bill. Pacific Power customer service employees will always have your account number. Call 1-888-221-7070 to report any suspicious calls.