PGE – 02/28/22 9:50 AM
Portland, Ore, – In response to growing reports of scams targeting utility customers, Portland General Electric (PGE) is spreading awareness to help customers protect themselves from fraud. PGE estimates scammers have cost its customers at least $8,700 in irrecuperable transactions in the first six weeks of 2022.
Although anyone can be a target of these attacks, scammers often prey on older adults, low-income families, non-English speakers and small business owners. With the right information, customers can learn to detect fraudulent activity.
Scammers impersonating PGE can target customers via phone calls, texts, social media messages, emails or even by knocking on doors. One of the biggest red flags indicating a scam is a threat of immediate disconnection if payment is not made, usually with a prepaid credit card. These cards give the scammer instant access to the victim’s money and are often untraceable. PGE always attempts to contact customers days in advance of a service shutoff and will never ask customers to pay with a prepaid card, Venmo or Zelle.
PGE encourages customers to utilize these additional tips to protect themselves:
- When in doubt, check it out! Contact PGE customer service to verify account information and status if someone threatens immediate disconnection. Use the phone number on your monthly bill or from PGE’s website (800-542-8818) – not a number provided by the suspected scammer.
- Customers will never receive just a single notification providing only one hour or less to respond. A legitimate utility company employee will allow customers to call the office to ask questions and discuss arrangements.
- Although rare, sometimes a scammer pretending to be a PGE employee will come to a customer’s home or business demanding immediate payment on a late bill. Customers should ask to see the visitor’s employee badge and call PGE (800-542-8818) to verify their identity. If customers feel threatened or uncomfortable, they should keep their door closed and call 911 if concerned about their safety.
- Customers should be suspicious if the amount demanded is just under $500 or $1000, especially if they don’t think they owe that much. These are common payment amounts requested by scammers.
- Some scammers use fake bills that look official. If the account and billing information received does not match the account information on portlandgeneral.com, it should be considered highly suspect.
- PGE recommends customers register online or download the mobile app, so they can always check the status of their accounts.
Scammers rely on their victim’s uncertainty and panic over the prospect of a power shutoff to pressure immediate payment. Stop, think and verify.
For more information on tactics used by scammers and how customers can protect themselves, visit portlandgeneral.com/scams.
About Portland General Electric Company:
Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR) is a fully integrated energy company based in Portland, Oregon. The company serves approximately 900,000 customers with a service area population of 2 million Oregonians in 51 cities. PGE owns 16 generation plants across Oregon and other Northwestern states and maintains and operates 14 public parks and recreation areas. For more than 130 years, PGE has powered the advancement of society, delivering safe, affordable, and reliable energy to Oregonians. PGE and its approximately 3,000 employees are working with customers to build a clean energy future. Together with its customers, PGE has the No. 1 voluntary renewable energy program in the U.S. PGE is committed to achieving at least an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from power served to customers by 2030 and 100% reduction by 2040. In 2021, PGE became the first U.S. utility to join The Climate Pledge. For the eighth year in a row PGE achieved a perfect score on the 2021 Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ workplace equality. In 2021, PGE, employees, retirees, and the PGE Foundation donated $4.8 million and volunteered 15,760 hours with more than 300 nonprofits across Oregon. For more information visit www.PortlandGeneral.com/news.