Public Alert: Ongoing Scam Affecting Utility Customers in Willamette Valley

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Portland Police Badge



August 13, 2014 09:05

  

The Portland Police Bureau and Portland General Electric want community members to be aware of an ongoing nation-wide telephone scam targeting utility customers.

Members of the community are being targeted by a telephone scam in which customers are being contacted by someone claiming to be with their utility, or a collection agency working on behalf of the utility.

These scammers are telling customers that they are past due on their account and need to pay immediately or their service will be disconnected. Customers are directed to purchase a Green Dot, MoneyPak or Vanilla Reload prepaid credit card and call the scammer back with the credit card number. As soon as the scammer obtains the serial number off of the pre-paid card, they are able to transfer funds into their own account.

Several customers have become victims of the scam and have lost hundreds and thousands of dollars.

These callers have no known access to any confidential utility customer information. They will often target non-native English speakers in the community, including businesses.

PGE will never ask you to buy a pre-paid credit card to pay your bill.

PGE employees do not accept payment over the phone.

If you question the authenticity of a call asking for payment, hang up and contact your local utility directly; PGE customers can call customer service at 503-228-6322 or 800-542-8818.

Tips to help avoid becoming a victim to this scam include:

* Never give personal or financial information to an unsolicited caller or email.
* Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payment for any reason.
* Utility companies and government agencies will never contact you for payment by GreenDot, MoneyPak or Vanilla Reload.
* Remember that anyone who has the number on a prepaid card has access to the funds on your card.
* Never wire money, provide debit or credit card numbers to a stranger.

MoneyPak/Green Dot and Vanilla Reload have online tools to allow purchasers to request a refund if the scammer has not yet cashed the card.

For more information, please visit https://www.moneypak.com/refundrequest.aspx for MoneyPak/Green Dot and https://www.vanillareload.com/index.php/refund for Vanilla Reload.

If you are a resident of Portland and fall victim to these scammers with financial loss, you are encouraged to file a report by calling the Portland Police Bureau's Non-Emergency line at (503) 823-3333.

Resources are available for consumers to avoid becoming victims of scams and fraud at the Oregon Department of Justice. Information can be found online at: http://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer/pages/index.aspx

About Portland General Electric Company: Portland General Electric, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is a fully integrated electric utility that serves approximately 838,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Oregon.

Visit their website at www.portlandgeneral.com

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Media Relations:
Sgt. Pete Simpson
Peter.Simpson@portlandoregon.gov
Desk: 503-823-0830
Pager: 503-790-1779


Portland Police Bureau
1111 SW 2nd Ave, Suite 1526
Portland, Oregon 97204