A front desk manager at the Tiki Lodge was just doing what she does everyday, but then she got a strange call on Saturday that raised a few red flags.
Christina Stangel says the call sounded legitimate, and the callers told her they were with Avista Utilities. They said that an immediate payment was needed or they were going to shut off power to the business in the next 45 minutes.
“I was very worried,” she says.
That’s because it was so cold out. So, she kept talking to whoever was on the other line, and that person kept asking for the owner or the accounts manager. But then, Christina knew something was wrong and there were red flags throughout their conversation.
“It was the fact that they couldn't verify any information that led me to investigate more,” she says.
So she hung up, grabbed the Avista bill, and called the phone number on there.
“They verified there wasn’t any problem with the account,” Christina said.
Christina later found out that others have received similar calls.
“It was very sad…because I felt like I almost fell for it,” she says. “I started thinking about the other people in Spokane that might be getting these phone calls and somebody might have provided their credit card information.”
Thankfully, Christina didn’t provide any sort of personal information, but if you get a call like this, how can you protect yourself?
A section on Avista’s website describes the different red flags to watch out for:
- A scammer telling you to purchase a prepaid debit or credit car to the make the payment.
- The scammer using high-pressure tactics
Also, Avista advises that if you ever are suspicious, hang up and call Avista to speak with a customer service representative as Christina did: (800) 227-9187
Christina just urges everyone to be aware.
“Be very careful,” she says. “With the weather the way it is I think they're preying on people with the electric the heat the power.”
For more information and tips, go to Avista’s website: https://www.myavista.com/safety/beware-of-scams