Marlene Feist

Scam Alert: Callers demand payment, threaten water shut-off

Marlene Feist, Utilities Communications Manager, No Phone Number Available

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 7:11 a.m.

Scam Alert:  Callers demand payment, threaten water shut-off

City of Spokane utility customers should be aware of scammers claiming to represent City utilities who threaten to shut off water unless immediate payment is made. At least one local organization has received such a call, which is very similar to scam calls reported by other local utilities in recent months.

Last summer, the Spokane Police Department and Avista Utilities worked jointly to get information out to consumers about such fraudulent calls. Read the news release about that effort.

In the report the City received, the local organization was told by the scammer that they needed to pay $650 immediately to keep the water on. The organization was instructed to buy a prepaid card, a type of payment that can’t be easily tracked, at a local grocery store to pay the amount allegedly owed. In this case, the organization was current on its City utility bill.

The City never takes such an aggressive approach to working with customers who are past due on accounts. Customers who are past due on their accounts are contacted multiple times before ever facing the possibility of having their water turned off. Additionally, after those contacts, the City will place a door hanger at a residence or business 24 hours before turning off water.

If you receive a call that you believe is suspicious, end the call. To confirm if a call is legitimately from the City, please call the Utility Billing office directly at 509.625.6000.

Anyone who believes they have contacted in this way or has been a victim of this scam is asked to call Crime Check at 509.456.2233 to file a police report.

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