Callers pose as PUD representatives, try to get credit card numbers

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

Scammers are targeting the customers of Clallam and Jefferson public utility districts, threatening to interrupt electrical power services unless payment is made immediately, the two agencies reported Tuesday.

At least one business owner wired several hundred dollars to the location provided by the caller, said Bill Graham, resource manager for Jefferson County Public Utility District.

Jefferson County PUD issued a warning on its website at Friday, while the Clallam County PUD posted a similar warning at Tuesday.

In both counties, the scammer posed as a utility district employee, officials said.

Three commercial customers reported the scam to Jefferson County PUD, saying the callers knew detailed information about them, Graham said.

“They were pretty sophisticated. They had a lot of account information,” he said.

All three customers were restaurants.

Jefferson County PUD never asks for wired funds, Graham said.

Several Clallam County PUD customers received a call from an 800 number Saturday and Sunday in which a caller claiming to be a company employee said electrical power would be shut off if the bill was not paid in full via credit card, said Mike Howe, PUD spokesman.

The caller knew customers’ addresses — available to the public through multiple telephone directories — but did not have personal PUD account information, Howe said.

In accordance with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, the PUD does not provide information to customers about their accounts unless they provide verification that they are the account holders, Howe said.

He said that the PUD has a shut-off process that includes several steps, included mailed notices, calls Friday and Monday, and a door hanger before cutting off power.

No action is taken on weekends, Howe said.

Jefferson County PUD customers who receive suspected bogus collection calls are asked to call the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office at 360-385-3831.

Clallam PUD customers who receive calls suspected to be scams should call the PUD at 360-452-9771 to verify the call.


Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsula

Last modified: April 15. 2014 6:13PM
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