Don’t be fooled if you get a call from someone claiming to be from Seattle City Light and that you need to pay money NOW to avoid power-service disconnection. Last November, we wrote about this scam hitting local businesses. And tonight, West Seattle’s Feedback Lounge (WSB sponsor) says somebody just tried it on them today – they weren’t fooled.
A guy calling himself James from Seattle City Light called the Feedback and got our manager. “James” said we were due to be disconnected for non-payment. He said there was a technician in the area and would arrive within about 30 minutes so we needed to act quickly. He wanted her to go to Rite Aid and get a Money Pack for $260 then call back (to a different number than he was calling on) to process the payment. Fortunately (the manager) was sharp enough to call me and we determined it was a scam. Here were the clues:
*We had just paid our bill and had reference numbers to prove it. James said the payments didn’t show on our account. When I asked what account number he was looking at, he wouldn’t tell me.
*James called from a number that didn’t have a city-type prefix (usually 684).
*The number at Feedback is not the contact number we have on file at City Light. When (the manager) tried the number James gave her to make the payment, James answered. When he recognized her voice he hung up.
*The amount ($260) bore no relation to any of our bills. Anyone who has dealt with disconnection knows that balances have to be paid in full to stop the disconnect.
*Anyone from City Light that calls about a disconnection has the ability to take a payment. There is no need to call another number.
*Most telling, there is no way City Light is paying anyone on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to go out and do power disconnects.
*I called police and reported this and they told me it is a currently running scam around town.
Also of note – when this scam went around exactly a year ago, City Light explained on its website that it does NOT cut off power for one late payment – you would get at least two written notifications. This kind of scam is a crime, so if someone tries it on you, call police, as the Feedback crew did.