Scammers are calling Tri-City utility customers. Here’s how to spot a fake

A sure way to tell than an actual Tri-City utility isn’t on the other end of the line when the phone rings: They start asking for credit card or personal information.

Or they will accept payment with gift cards.

That’s the message the Benton and Franklin PUDs, Richland Energy Services and Benton REA want to get out to their customers, warning them to be wary unsolicited calls claiming to be from a utility.

If customers are unsure a call is from their utility, they should hang up and call their utility.

Tri-City area residents and businesses have received calls in which they were told the caller is collecting on a past due account and immediate payment is needed or electricity service will be disconnected.

The caller requests the payment by money order, credit card, cash or gift cards.

The phone number may appear to be the local utility, and the caller may sound convincing by quoting fictitious past due amounts and utility policies.