Call about utility bill could be a scammer

Somebody has been asking for payments via phone

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

Published:

 

Attention Clark Public Utilities customers: A scammer wants inside your wallet.

The utility said Monday it has received more than 20 calls from customers over the past several weeks saying they've been contacted by someone who claims to represent the utility, asserts the customer hasn't paid a bill and then threatens to cut service unless the bill is immediately paid over the phone.

That's not how Clark Public Utilities operates, said Erica Erland, a spokeswoman for the utility, which serves electricity and water to tens of thousands of residential and business customers in Clark County. "We would never call (customers) and ask them for payment or personal information over the phone," Erland said.

She said the proper response to such a con is to hang up on the caller and dial the utility at 360-992-3000 to report it and to check whether it was legitimate.

Erland said the utility doesn't think the scammer knows how to target customers who may in fact be behind in their payments, because the customers who've alerted the utility to the deception are all current in their payments.

The swindle reaches beyond Clark Public Utilities customers.

Late last month, the Better Business Bureau said utilities in the U.S. and Canada were alerting their customers to a similar hoax.

Aaron Corvin: http://twitter.com/col_econ;http://on.fb.me/AaronCorvin; 360-735-4518; aaron.corvin@columbian.com.