Seattle City Light reminds all its customers to guard against telephone con artists posing as utility bill collectors.
In the past week, the utility received at least two reports of phone calls from con artists claiming to be electric utility employees who were ready to disconnect their electricity. The scammers appear to be targeting residents with Asian surnames and similar businesses.
“Sadly, there are criminals out there who will try to take advantage of another with the false threat of cutting off their electricity,” Customer Service Director Kelly Enright said. “Seattle City Light wants to help its customers protect themselves from scam artists and the best way to do that is to be informed.”
In the scam, the callers claimed there were problems with payment of the customers’ bill and asked for a credit card payment to resolve the matter. In one instance, the caller claimed to work for a different utility. This is similar to incidents reported to City Light during the past several years.
“If someone asks for your credit card number or Social Security number over the phone, don’t give it to them,” Enright said. “We never demand immediate payment to avoid a shutoff for one late payment or use Social Security numbers as part of our billing process.”
If a customer is behind on his or her bill and at risk of having the power turned off, City Light sends at least two written warnings asking the customer to contact the utility directly to make a payment.
City Light also wants to remind customers:
- Seattle City Light accepts credit card payments at a customer’s request, but never demands or solicits credit card information to pay a bill.
- Seattle City Light does not call customers on weekends about their utility account.
- Seattle City Light employees carry identification with the City Light logo and will always display it when asked.
All City Light customers are advised to take down the name and telephone number of anyone who calls and represents themselves as a City Light employee. Also, before customers provide any credit information, they should call City Light at 684-3000 to verify that the request is legitimate. If a customer believes he or she has been contacted by a con artist, they are urged to contact the Seattle Police Department at (206) 625-5011 to report the incident.
Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.