AP NEWS

Avista warns of phone scams

April 11, 2019

Avista sent out a warning for customers to be wary of phone calls from people claiming to represent the company and demanding large amounts of money.

The company sent out a warning on April 5 reminding customers that it will never ask customers to purchase prepaid debit cards or threaten to cut power with only an hour notice.

“These are ongoing (scams),” Avista spokesperson David Vowels said. “Scams such as this are frequent. It’s an ongoing concern.”

Vowels said the scammers will target specific areas at a time and to all utility companies and other entities.

“We want to remind customers to hang up and not fall for the scam,” Vowels said. “They can be very convincing.”

In Oregon, Avista only provides natural gas. In Washington and Idaho, it also provides electricity.

Avista warns customers to look out for several red flags; the caller becomes angry, tells the customer service will be disconnected if a large payment isn’t made in a short amount of time, instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit card.

If a customer thinks they have received a scam phone call, they should hang up, call Avista with the information, and check past billing statements for past due notices, and call the police.

Vowels said one of the major issues is with phone spoofing technology which allows the scammers to show up in caller ID as Avista, but the customer can call the main company line at 800-227-9187 and get assurance on their standing with their natural gas bills.