Chelan PUD is warning customers about scammers who are demanding immediate payment of utility bills over the phone. 

The PUD says it's received more than two dozen calls from customers who've experienced the scam calls. 

Spokesperson Rachel Hansen says some of the scammers are using the PUD's actual phone number. 

"In some cases, they're spoofing the customer's caller ID so that it displays Chelan PUD's main number, even though it's not the public utility," said Hansen. 

The PUD is asking customers who think they've received a scam call to hang up immediately and call the utility directly - (509) 661-8002.

Hansen says the phony bill collectors are asking for methods of payment the PUD would never use. 

"It might be a scam if they ask for immediate payment with cash, credit card, a wire transfer, or a prepaid card," Hanses said. "We would never ask for those kinds of alternative forms of payment, and we don't demand any payment over the phone." 

Hansen says the scammers have also asked for information the PUD already has, such as account numbers and addresses. 

The flare-up of scam calls is coming after the company used by the PUD to issue billing statements was shut down by a cyber-attack. 

The shutdown led to a delay in billing statements going out, and to those bills being larger than normal because of the delay. 

Hansen said the scammers were likely using confusion generated from the billing breakdown to capitalize on vulnerable consumers. 

The PUD’s vendor hit by the cyber-attack was Change Healthcare, which is best known for insurance billing. The same cyber-attack that shut down the PUD's billing also affected pharmacies around the country, including several here in the Wenatchee area.      

The PUD contracted with Change Healthcare to send about 2,000 billing statements a day, electronically and in the mail. 

The utility switched to a new vendor earlier this month, with the first batch of bills being successfully sent out to customers on March 7. 

Hansen said the system has caught up, with all billing statements that were delayed having since been sent out.  

She said the billing cycle is back to normal, although some customers could get two bills in quick succession because of a delay in the first one.  


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