Utility Company Scams and How to Avoid Them

Who hasn’t received a phone call, an email, or even a text message that just doesn’t feel right? Who are these unknown and anonymous contacts, trying to instill fear in us?

In some cases, they’re scammers. Scammers are tricky, polished, and pretty convincing. And these days, they’re everywhere.

There are common tactics that, when recognized, can help prevent you from becoming their next victim. Although scammers are active year-round, they seem to step up their game around the holidays and tax season. Scam calls may come from all over the place, but they often sound quite similar.

Scammers have found ways to duplicate business information, so you may receive phone calls, texts, or emails that appear legitimate. The demands that reside within these messages are what make them stand out, though.

In the utility world, scammers often state they are from the utility company. They provide a fake name and employee ID number, may say they are with the ‘billing department’ and then threaten service disconnection if an overdue bill is not resolved immediately. This is typically followed by some sort of unusual demand – such as requesting the purchase of a prepaid cash card at a local convenience store. After the purchase, they request a callback to gather the card information, which activates the funds and grants access to spend them.

While some of us may indeed be late with our payments, the idea that our utility would call on such short notice to threaten disconnect and then request an odd and untraceable form of payment makes no sense. If you receive a call, text, or email – or if someone appears at your door – demanding immediate payment to avoid interruption, tell them you’d like to verify they are a legitimate company representative.

Locally, scammers love to target Avista customers. Don’t let them fool you, though. If you receive a phone call that doesn’t sound right, simply hang up and call the phone number listed on our company’s website and on your monthly bill (800-227-9187). Our representatives will be able to tell you what the actual status of your account is. We would never contact you and demand immediate payment - especially via prepaid cash card. Also, Avista employees and our authorized contractors all carry an Avista photo ID badge.

We’re here for you and want you to be safe. We work to disconnect scammer’s phone numbers, so trust your gut and call us to verify information when you feel uneasy.

Learn more about scams and what to look for to keep yourself safe.

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