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Scam Calls Targeting Small Businesses, Threatening Power Shut-Off

Scammers are targeting local utility customers, according to Eugene Water and Electric Board.

Spokesman Joe Harwood says they’re hearing reports of small businesses getting calls from people posing as EWEB or other power companies. Potential victims are told they’ll have their electricity shut off if they don’t make a payment within the hour.

“They’re then telling the victims, that have fallen for this, to meet them in a parking lot at usually at a retail store," explains Harwood.  "And the scammer then tells them to go buy a pre-paid debit card. And they go in, and they exchange cash for the pre-paid card, go back to their vehicle, call the scammers back, and then the scammer asks for the activation number. 

"Then the scammers empty the card.”

Harwood says the scammers have even managed to make EWEB’s main phone number appear on the target’s caller ID. He says EWEB would never ask customers to buy pre-paid debit cards, nor do they discuss shutting off power on the first call to a delinquent account.

If someone has doubts about any utility call, they can hang up and dial EWEB’s main number directly themselves. (541-685-7000).

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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