PRESS RELEASE FROM AVISTA: Avista customers in the Palouse area and Lewiston are reporting receiving phone calls from an individual demanding that immediate payment of their utility bill be made by pre-paid cards or at a non-Avista location. All customers are cautioned that this is not Avista's business practice and to be alert to this type of fraudulent phone call.
A customer with a past due amount is notified by letter if there is an outstanding balance that could result in a disconnection of service. Avista does not contact customers asking for confidential information, such as social security number, credit card number or banking information or demand immediate payment.
If a customer receives a phone call and feels pressured for immediate payment or to provide personal information, the customer should hang up the phone and contact Avista at (800) 227-9187. Customers can also call Avista any time to verify the identification of an employee or authorized contractor.
"The trust of our customers is very important. That's why we want to make sure customers know our process for contacting them so they do not become a victim of scam artists," said Mike Broemeling, Avista's director of customer service. "Always think safety first. Do not give in to high pressure tactics to let someone into your home or to provide confidential information over the phone."
Staying safe also means knowing who may be on your property. Avista field employees and authorized contractors should wear or have in their possession their Avista photo identification badge. Customers should ask to see it if in doubt. If they don't have identification, customers can ask them to leave.
Avista field employees wear a lime-green safety reflective vest with an Avista logo while others often wear a sweatshirt, long-sleeve shirt, t-shirt or other similar clothing with an Avista logo. Authorized Avista contractors have vehicle signs stating they are under contract to Avista Utilities.
Field employees and authorized contractors typically do not need access to the inside of your home unless you have contacted Avista directly about a specific problem.