Scam targets utility customers

Pacific Power is warning the public of a phone scam targeting utility customers in the region where crooks posing as customer service agents are trying to get money and steal personal information.

Scammers call customers claiming to be from their local electric company. They tell the potential victim they have not paid for their service and are in jeopardy of being disconnected. In some cases, the callers say customers need to pay a special meter charge.

The scam caller advises the customer to make a payment either immediately on the phone, by calling a special number or by going to a local store to purchase a pre-paid card and calling back with the code.

Utility customers should be aware this is not a legitimate request and Pacific Power does not follow this practice.

When Pacific Power contacts a customer, the representative will always have the customer’s account number. Even then, if you are contacted by phone and have any concerns about the validity of the call, it is always appropriate to let the caller know you prefer to call them back at the utility’s published customer service number.

Pacific Power can be reached any time, toll-free, at 888-221-7070.

In the past several days, fraudulent calls have been made to the homes and businesses of Pacific Power customers. The calls are similar to those that have plagued customers nationwide.

“These scammers are in no way associated with our company and we take very seriously any efforts to defraud our customers, especially using our company’s good customer relationships and reputation,” said Karen Gilmore, Pacific Power’s vice president of customer service.

Customers should never provide unsolicited callers or visitors with credit card numbers or any other information that may compromise their financial security.

Anyone receiving such calls or other forms of contact regarding their utility bill is encouraged to pay close attention to any information — such as the phone number they are asked to call, a number that appears on Caller ID, an address where they’re told to send money — and to report the incident to local police and their utility provider.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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