SCAM ALERT, AGAIN: Fake ‘City Light’ caller, but ‘very convincing’

The utility-bill scammers just don’t quit. We heard Wednesday night from another Junction business that got the call and wanted to warn you not to fall for it:

We received a call from someone (Wednesday) saying they were from Seattle City Light. The person on the phone said he was given a work order to disconnect our power due to unpaid bills.

The person knew we are set up with automatic pay with SCL and he said our payments for the last two months didn’t process due to something that went wrong with their processing system. He said we needed to immediately pay a certain amount of money or our power would be disconnected in the next half hour.

Long story short, this ended up being a scam but the person on the phone was extremely convincing. We were hoping you could spread the word about this new scam so nobody gets taken.

As a City Light spokesperson said in a 2014 alert, the utility “does not call, email or visit customers demanding immediate payment to avoid shutoffs. Anyone who falls behind on payments will receive at least two written notifications before the shutoff process starts.” If you are concerned about your account status, call an SCL customer rep at 206-684-3000 – don’t deal with the person who called you out of the blue.

13 Replies to "SCAM ALERT, AGAIN: Fake 'City Light' caller, but 'very convincing'"

  • Chris October 13, 2016 (3:13 am)

    Thank you for letting us know about this.   We got an unusual call on our cell phone from an unrecognized phone number.   They said “it was very important that we call them back” several times.   They indicated they were from Seattle City Light.   We did not call back.

  • TheKing October 13, 2016 (5:21 am)

    Just tell them you have just installed solar panels on your entire roof. have some fun. 

  • Double Dub Resident October 13, 2016 (7:05 am)

    No phone scam should be convincing.  Rule of thumb, don’t give ANY info,  gather info if possible, call BS on the caller,   hang up and call the proper number that the scammer purports to be from to follow up on it 

  • Rick October 13, 2016 (9:13 am)

    Tell them the only way you are able to pay is in person so just stop by.

    • listhead October 13, 2016 (12:30 pm)

      I will add though that Seattle utilities DID do something with their accounting system and account numbers and I actually DID miss my automatic payments for the last period.  When I received my newest bill earlier this week it was twice as large as usual.  If you do have auto payments, you should check that things are being paid.

      • sam-c October 13, 2016 (1:45 pm)

        Yes, I am with Listhead. City Light and Public Utilities changed your account number.  They included a little flyer with the bill but it didn’t look that much different from their advertisements to come tour the diablo dam, or ask Evelyn what is recyclable.  They should have printed the actual bills on yellow paper or something very noticeable.  

  • d October 13, 2016 (1:23 pm)

    I told the guy I’d believe him when the guy to shut the power off showed up and while I was waiting I would try to call the real City Light he then hung the phone up and didn’t try calling back

  • Andy October 14, 2016 (6:16 am)

    City Light cashed our check but then  deposited it in someone else’s account. We then had to make payment by credit card, since they said payment was past due,  and they were going to charge a late fee.  It took City Light two days to respond to our phone calls, and then a total of over three hours on the phone with their representative, and the  issue is still not resolved! This should be an easy  fix, but instead is getting to be a real headache.  Needless to say, we are not happy with City Light. Their excuse is: Oh we changed our system and gave everybody new account numbers for both electrical and utilities. Has anybody noticed a big increase in their latest utility bill? Ours is usually about $300, but the last bill is over $500. I shudder to think about having to get to the bottom of this latest fiasco with utilities, too, since we are still trying to resolve the issue with City Light.

  • Neighbor October 14, 2016 (7:46 am)

    Anybody who’s lived here for any amount of time knows that you can string City Light along forever before paying the bill. If your balance is below $200, they won’t even bother you. And they only cut power during business hours. 

    (I know all this because during my starving student days, I learned how to work the utilities. City Light was always great. The water department was more hardcore, and the long-departed Washington Natural gas was downright mean. They once cut me for a overdue balance of twelve bucks.  ;-) 

    • WSB October 14, 2016 (7:50 am)

      If you’ve never let a bill go, you wouldn’t know that. But yes, we’ve missed a payment due to procrastination, and SCL just tacked on a late charge, and re-billed. However, these scammers often target businesses, and it’s particularly terrifying (speaking as a small businessperson) because no power = can’t run business = no money for anything. So thanks again to the folks who sent the warning. I’m sorry the scammers are still at it, because that means somebody somewhere is still falling for it … TR

    • newnative October 14, 2016 (2:32 pm)

      The first 5 years I lived here, I paid my City Light Bill with either Christmas money or tax refund.  Yes, I did.  And I did pay one person who showed up at the door to shut off my power.  

  • Seattle City Light October 17, 2016 (2:27 pm)

     Greetings
    from your friends at Seattle City Light! Thanks for the discussion about scam
    and fraud prevention. We’d like to chime in to share some information that
    might be helpful.

     

    We
    know there are some scams out there where a fraudulent caller may pretend to
    work for City Light and demand
    thousands of dollars or threaten to shut off power if payment isn’t made. These
    threats can take place over the phone, by email, or in-person at customer homes
    and businesses. Some scammers may use caller ID impersonating Seattle City
    Light’s customer service number to try to convince you that you’re talking to
    the utility.

     

    When
    you’re dealing with us, the real
    City
    Light, we’ll
    take steps to notify you
    multiple times before shutting off power
    if you’re past-due on a bill. Seattle City Light will always direct
    customers to our secure online payment system at
    http://www.seattle.gov/light
    or to call our main line at 206-684-3000 to
    make a payment. While we may eventually notify you in person if your bill is
    past-due, our employees will never ask for payment in person and will always be
    carrying identification.

     

    If
    you’re ever in doubt when you receive a suspicious call, we encourage you to hang
    up and reach out to us directly. By initiating the call, you’ll have more
    confidence and certainty in who you’re speaking with on the other end of the line.

     

    Thanks
    for staying alert and please call us at (206) 684-3000 with any questions or
    concerns!

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