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February 26, 2010

Billing Scam Hits Seattle Utility

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

Officials with Seattle’s publicly owned electrical utility today are warning customers about a billing scam that occasionally emerges in the rainy city – one that’s already affected some people.
According to Seattle City Light – which serves about 1 million people – telephone con artists are posing as utility bill collectors are targeting customers “with Asian surnames.”
Customer Service Director Kelly Enright said that it’s “deplorable” that a person would threaten someone with cutting off their electricity as part of the scam.
“City Light wants to help its customers protect themselves and the best way to do that is to be informed,” Enright said.
According to the utility, callers are claiming that they’ve had problems billing payments and they’re asking for credit card payments – sometimes even social security numbers.
 “If someone asks for your credit card number or Social Security number over the phone, don’t give it to them,” Enright said. “We do not demand immediate payment to avoid a shutoff for one late payment or use social security numbers as part of our billing process.”
Seattle City Light is reminding its customers that the company never demands or solicits such information to pay a bill, and that the company won’t call its customers on weekends at all.

Michael Dinan is a group managing editor for TMCnet, overseeing TMCnet's Web editorial team and covering news in the IP communications, CRM and VoIP industries. He also oversees production of e-Newsletters in the areas of 4G wireless technology and smart products. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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