Monday, May 14, 2007

Seattle City Light Billing Scam Warning

This kind of thing was going on long before "phishing" was coined. It's the same thing in a different technology medium.

April 25, 2007 phone: 206/615-0978
pager: 206/386-4233

Customers Urged to Protect Credit Card Information from Con Artists

SEATTLE - Seattle City Light is urging its customers to be on guard against telephone con artists posing as utility bill collectors who appear to be targeting customers with Asian surnames in the West Seattle area.

In the past few days, several customers reported they received phone calls from people claiming to be City Light employees. One customer’s account was fraudulently tapped for more than $3,000.

In the scam, the callers claim there is a problem with payment of the customer's bill by check and demand credit card information to resolve the matter. This is similar to incidents reported to City Light in January and earlier this month.

Carol Dickinson, director of customer relations and account services, said City Light wants to help its customers protect themselves from such scams.

"We do not make outbound calls to customers asking for money to pay their bill or to ask for credit card payments or personal account information as part of our daily work," Dickinson said. "We respect customer privacy and take security of customer account and payment information seriously. We take many proactive steps to ensure that customer information is kept safe."

City Light sends at least two written warnings to customers who are about to have their power turned off, asking them to contact the utility directly to make a payment.

City Light also would like to remind customers:
  • Seattle City Light never asks customers over the telephone for credit card information to pay their bills.

  • Seattle City Light does not call customers on weekends.

  • Seattle City Light employees carry identification with the City Light logo and will always display it when asked.

All City Light customers are advised to take down the name and telephone number of anyone who calls and represents themselves as a City Light employee. Also, before customers provide any credit information, they should call City Light at 684-3000 to verify that the request is legitimate. If a customer believes he or she has been contacted by a con artist, they are urged to contact the Seattle Police Department at (206) 625-5011 to report the incident.

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