Last month I received a recorded call (that went to my voicemail) purporting to be a representative from Portland General Electric. The caller was notifying me that there was a problem with my electric service and I needed to call within 30 minutes or my electric service would be shut off. My voicemail showed that the call originated from PGE.
I called the number listed. “Press 1 to be connected to a representative,” the recording said. I pressed “1” and spoke with a guy. He told me that I needed to make a payment or my electricity would be shut off. I knew that I was not behind on my payments because I use autopay and could see where the funds had been taken out of my bank account, but I decided to play along.
I stated, “I haven’t received a notice that I am behind in my payments.” He replied, “Yes you did and you now owe $394.50.” I said that I would need to go online to my PGE account to make the payment. While I was speaking with him I tried log in to my PGE account and, for some odd reason, I could not get through. He said that was because my account had been locked and I would need to make the payment by giving him my credit card information. I said, “I’m unwilling to do that because this could be a scam, how else can I pay?” He told me I could go to a Rite-Aid or Walgreens, for example, and buy a cash card.
That is where I hung up and called PGE. To my surprise, the phone was answered with exactly the same recording and phone tree options. Wow, the scammers have it down to a science! The representative was not surprised to learn about the call. She explained that the scammers were able to make it appear that the number belonged to PGE when it came up on your phone and had duplicated their recording and phone tree options. She provided me with the email of their legal department so that I could forward the voicemail.
This week I answered the phone for my office and the same scam recording started to play. Don’t be fooled!