Utility Scam Reported in Northwest

Better Business Bureau Receives Multiple Reports of Scheme
January 05, 2018

A utility scam is back preying on Northwest residents. Better Business Bureau Northwest & Pacific has received multiple reports of scammers calling residents and businesses claiming to be with their local utility company and threatening to shut off their power if they don’t pay up. 

An Ada County man reported to BBB Scam Tracker that the caller “spoofed” Idaho Power’s phone number. “He said our power bill was not paid and a technician was headed out to shut it off,” the man reported.

Fortunately, the man was able to get off the phone without paying any money.

According to Idaho Power, this is just the latest in a long string of increasingly sophisticated scams targeting their customers.

“Scammers are getting more and more sophisticated, employing technology to trick customers into thinking they have a call from – or are placing a call to – their utility,” said Customer Service Senior Manager Maggie Brilz. “To reach Idaho Power, customers should always call 208-388-2323 or 1-800-488-6151 outside the Treasure Valley. Any other phone numbers could be fraudulent.”

Utility company imposters will typically reach out by telephone or knock on your door claiming to be a representative from the local water, electric or gas company. In the most common scenario, the scammer informs you that payment is overdue and the utility will be shut off if you don’t pay up immediately.

How to Spot This Scam:

  • Restrictive payment methods. If a caller specifically asks you to pay by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, this is a huge warning sign. Your utility company will accept a check or credit card. It is also easier to dispute the charges when paying by check or credit card. 
  • Pressure to pay immediately. If you feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill. This will ensure you are speaking to a real representative.

Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of a scam should contact their local law enforcement and report it to BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB Northwest serves more than 14 million consumers in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Western Wyoming.