The PUD reminds customers about potential scams that may be committed over the phone, through mailers, via text messages and by people visiting their home or business. Criminals use various means of solicitation and may claim bills are delinquent, that special funding is available and/or seek financial information from the customer.
Here are some examples of current scams:
- Reload Packs (April 2015): On a Saturday, a restaurant owner receives a call from someone claiming to be from the PUD but calling from a South Carolina area code. The caller informs the owner that he owes $900 to the PUD for unpaid bills. The caller instructs the owner to purchase two $500 Reload Packs. He tells the owner to call him back with the 10-digit number on the Reload Packs or a truck will be sent to disconnect his power later that day. The owner can't reach his accountant to find out why his bills are unpaid. Panicking, he rushes to the bank at closing time and explains his predicament. A bank employee assures him this is a scam. He calls the PUD's customer service direct phone line and hears a recorded message about utility scams. The PUD does not collect outstanding debt with Reload Packs.
- Green Dot Prepaid Money Card (October 2013): A business manager receives a call from someone claiming to be from the PUD. The caller tells the manager his company owes almost $1,000 to the PUD for unpaid bills. The caller demands the manager get a Green Dot Prepaid Money Pak Card to pay the bill or the utilities will be turned off immediately. The manager believes the ruse, follows the instructions and provides the card number. The manager then realizes he may have been conned and calls 911. Detectives trace the phone number to Kansas City. This is a nationwide fraud aimed at businesses, which has worked several times in Everett. The PUD does not collect outstanding debt with Green Dot Prepaid Money cards. (UPDATE, 6/15): If you purchase your prepaid card from Reloadit, there is a two-hour window allowing you to cancel the transaction.
- Postcard Scam (April 2012): Vendors are sending postcards that appear as if they are coming from the PUD ("personal information regarding your utility bills"), encouraging customers to attend a dinner where they can learn how to save "hundred to thousands" off their utility bills. The postcard uses a "sample" bill to indicate how much can be saved. This is some kind of national campaign that is not related in any way to Snohomish County PUD. Attached are images of the front and back of the postcard.
- If a customer receives a phone call asking for financial information, such as a credit card number to make a utility payment, he/she should never provide this information. The PUD never calls customers to collect credit card information over the phone. If customers aren’t sure if a call is from the PUD, he/she should call PUD Customer Service to verify the information given.
- If a person comes to a customer’s home or business claiming to be a PUD employee, the customer should ask to see the person's PUD identification. Employees carry an ID card with their picture on it and will gladly show it to customers. If customers believe they are the target of a potential scam, please call PUD Customer Service to report it.
- Be wary of offers from businesses promising huge savings on your energy bill, particularly if they reference what you paid on previous bills. The PUD does not share your account information with other organizations without your consent. If you have questions about an energy-efficiency offer, call PUD Customer Service.