Another scam targeting utility customers in Washington state and now Oregon has reached members of Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CCEC). Identity thieves posing as utility customer service agents are trying to get money and steal personal information.

"We began to investigate Saturday after our after-hours call center received a report from one of our members who had been the target of this most recent scam," Marketing and Member Services Manager Christine Stallard said. According to a recent press release issued by Pacific Power, scammers had targeted their customers in Washington state and Oregon since mid-March. Now, thieves are apparently targeting members of CCEC as well.

It works like this. Claiming to be a representative of CCEC, scammers call members and tell them they have past due payments and they are in jeopardy of being disconnected unless they make a payment immediately using a credit card or they call a special number to purchase a pre-paid card.

"We have always urged our members to be very wary about giving out personal information, including credit card numbers, unless they are certain they know the identity of the person calling them," Stallard said. Member service representatives at CCEC will always have account information when discussing a member's account.

"If you have any doubts about who is calling you, tell the person you would prefer to call back using one of our published telephone numbers or the number for our after-hours call center," Stallard continued.

"It seems that just about once a year we learn about scams like this run by dishonest people targeting the unsuspected," General Manager/CEO Roger Meader commented, "and I would like to once again encourage members to be very guarded about giving out personal accounting and banking information."

Anyone receiving suspicious calls or other contact regarding their electric 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 or an address where they are told to send money. Report the incident to CCEC and local authorities.

The main number for CCEC, whose headquarters are in Port Orford, is 541-332-3931.