Customers Advised to Use Caution to Avoid Scammers Pretending to be Seattle City Light

Seattle City Light produced a video with the Seattle Police Department, reminding customers to protect their personal financial information to avoid becoming a victim of scammers posing as City Light employees.

Watch it here.

When a customer is past due on a bill, Seattle City Light will take steps to notify the customer multiple times before shutting off power. Seattle City Light will always direct customers to the secure online payment system at www.seattle.gov/light or to call (206) 684-3000 to make a payment. Seattle City Light employees will never ask for payment in person and will always be able to produce identification if informing a customer in-person of a past-due bill.

During the winter, scammers may attempt to take advantage of the perfect storm of higher heating bills that come with lower temperatures.  Scammers may demand thousands of dollars and threaten to shut off power if payment isn’t made immediately. Vulnerable residents may be specially targeted by scammers including non-English speaking individuals, elderly people, and small-business owners. These threats can take place over the phone, by email, or in-person at customer homes and businesses. Some scammers may use caller ID impersonating Seattle City Light’s customer service number to convince customers that they are talking to the utility.

“We have a great team that works hard to make sure your service is provided safely and securely,” says Kelly Enright, Director of Customer Care at Seattle City Light. “If you’re ever in doubt when you receive a suspicious call, hang up and reach out to us directly. By initiating the call, you’ll have more confidence in who you’re speaking with on the other end of the line.”

If customers have concerns about the validity of a contact and want to ensure they’re talking to Seattle City Light, they are encouraged to call Seattle City Light directly at (206) 684-3000. Learn more about how to avoid becoming a victim at: www.seattle.gov/light/EndScams.

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

Scammers Target Utility Customers by Phone, Email and In-Person Visits

As temperatures continue to drop and the importance of keeping your home warm rises, scammers are taking full advantage of the situation by targeting utility customers; threatening to shutoff power unless payment is made to a fraudulent bill collector.

Seattle City Light is receiving 25 to 30 reports per week from customers targeted by such scams, often some of Seattle’s most vulnerable residents. Scammers commonly target non-English speaking individuals, elderly and small business owners. They use phone calls, email, even home visits, posing as Seattle City Light employees. In the scam, they demanding the customer’s financial and personal information in addition to payment with a pre-paid credit card (MoneyPak/GreenDot) or else the customer will face an immediate shutoff of service.

Seattle City Light does not call, email or visit customers demanding immediate payment to avoid shutoffs. Anyone who falls behind on payments will receive at least two written notifications before the shutoff process starts.

Additionally, City Light employees will never need to enter your home to conduct any kind of test. If someone claiming to be from City Light approaches you at home and asks for personal or financial information, requests to enter your home, or cannot provide you with employee identification, immediately shut your door, secure your home and call 911.

If a customer suspects a scam attempt or has any questions regarding their bill, City Light urges them to call a customer service representative at (206) 684-3000.

City Light is taking a proactive approach toward stopping scams through its “Spot It, Report it, Stop it,” scam prevention campaign. To learn more about how you can end scams, please visit: www.seattle.gov/light/EndScams. The website offers various resources for customers to protect themselves and their family and friends from scams.

About Seattle City Light
Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.