PUD scam making the rounds again

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EPHRATA — A classic scam is making its way around again, targeting Grant County PUD customers.

“A large number of customers” have received phone calls, “using terms like ‘disconnect orders’ and telling them they will have their power shut off unless they make an immediate payment,” wrote Ryan Holterhoff, PUD public affairs officer. So far, none of the PUD customers have fallen for the recent calls, said Chuck Allen, PUD public affairs supervisor.

There are times when Grant PUD employees do call customers to talk about an account, but in those cases the PUD is trying “to inform the customer of their account status and not trying to get the customer to make an immediate decision over the phone,” Allen wrote.

The PUD scam has been around for years, but the scammers are learning and getting more sophisticated in their approach, Allen said.

“It used to be these phone scammers were over the top in their tone and language, and they would try to aggressively bully customers into making a snap decision,” Allen wrote. “Now it seems they are trying to use language that might actually come from a utility. They also are trying to be more and more crafty by setting up their caller ID to look like it’s coming from a local number.”

Utility district customers are encouraged to hang up if they think a call is suspicious, then contact the PUD. “Even if we are making a legitimate courtesy call to our customers, we promise we won’t mind if the customer tells us they are going to hang up and call us back to verify the call,” he said. Customers who think they’ve been targeted for a scam can contact the PUD at its customer service line, 509-766-2505.

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