OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) warns utility consumers of a growing telephone scam across the country. The scam involves telephone callers claiming to be from a utility company and then employing a variety of techniques to defraud customers.
Some threaten customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they don’t make a payment immediately. The scam artist instructs them to send money via prepaid card or online payment service, such as PayPal or GreenDot, before their power is shut off. The scammer’s caller-ID is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as “spoofing.”
The UTC advises consumers who receive suspicious calls to call their utility directly to verify the request for payment. Consumers are urged to report suspicious calls to both the UTC and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The FTC is currently closed due to the government shutdown. When it reopens, the FTC may be reached at 1-888-CALLFCC (1-888-225-5322 or www.ftc.gov
The UTC is the state agency in charge of regulating the rates and services of telecommunications companies and investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities in the state.