Scam alert: Another variation of the utility-bill phone calls

July 14, 2014 at 8:15 pm | In Crime, Utilities, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

At least for this area, it’s a new spin on the recurring telephone scam in which someone calls a business and claims its electricity is about to be cut off unless it makes a payment right now. Over the weekend, Donna Burns from Giannoni’s Pizzeria in Westwood Village – which had received the power-bill-scam call at least twice – reported a caller, claiming to be with Puget Sound Energy, making demands: “After I received the ‘we’re turning off your gas in 30 minutes if you don’t pay $500′ call, I immediately called PSE myself (their emergency number) and confirmed that it was in fact, a fraudulent call.” She was due to follow up with the Seattle Police fraud unit today. Bottom line is that if anyone calls you – business or personal line – claiming you need to make a payment now or face disconnection, DON’T DO IT – even if you are worried you might have bonafide bill trouble, hang up and contact the utility directly yourself to find out your status. (Searching the Web before publishing this, we see reports of this in some other parts of PSE’s service territory, but it doesn’t seem to have been as widely reported in Seattle as the electric-bill scam.)

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  1. Better yet, write down the number they are calling from, keep them on the phone as long as possible and have someone else from another line call the police and ask that it be traced.

    Comment by Erik C. — 8:44 pm July 14, 2014 #

  2. How about a good old fashioned meet up.
    I will have you the money in front of my (house, business, etc) in 30 minutes, and have the police waiting inside?
    Or at least a couple of big dudes with baseball bats…

    Comment by Bill on Duwamish Head — 9:03 pm July 14, 2014 #

  3. It’s funny to read this (in an embarrassing kind of way) because I actually did just get a snail-mail notice from the real utility company that I was so far behind in my bills that shutoff could happen. I double-checked and verified this via my online account — no way I’d respond to a phone call or print notice without verifying. I hadn’t seen the utility’s emails in the onslaught of junk mail. No more electronic billing for me!

    Comment by Jody — 9:46 pm July 14, 2014 #

  4. So much fraud, so little time :)

    Comment by Laura — 11:04 pm July 15, 2014 #

  5. Happened to our business and the sad thing is Seattle Police wouldn’t even take a report. Phone numbers are not traceable … all come from off shore IP addresses so there is no way to find them. We caught on and never gave them money .. perhaps if we had the police would have at least taken a report. Many of these scams occur after hours
    (real billing offices are closed) when a business is open with customers shopping, dining, etc. They want you to load a cash card at a drug store or supermarket so they actually never show up!!

    Comment by Jeff Brein — 8:51 am July 17, 2014 #

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