By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
A Centralia business owner is the latest near-victim of a telephone scam which is growing increasingly common.
In today’s case, like others, the caller pretended to be from a utility company which would be shutting off service if the customer didn’t pay up with a money order immediately.
“Go to Rite Aid, send money Western Union, you have 45 minutes,” Centralia Police Department Officer Patty Finch said, describing the instructions given to the woman.
The woman actually went to Rite Aid, but was cautioned by employees there not to follow through, according to Finch.
She then called police.
Finch said the people at the other end of the phone line possess information which might lead the potential victim to feel convinced they are talking to their actual provider.
They were able to tell the woman her correct service address and her billing address, which are different, Finch said. “So they have information,” she said.
Centralia officers are getting dispatched to such incidents about every two weeks, Finch said.
They commonly claim to be Centralia City Light, Lewis County PUD or Puget Sound Energy, according to police.
The convincing caller says if the person doesn’t act within the hour, their power or water will be shut off. In today’s case, the woman was told her propane was going to be turned off, Finch said.
“Please be advised that none of these businesses operate in that fashion,” Finch said in a news release today. “If you are asked to wire money though Western Union or any other service, this is most likely a scam.”
Her advice: Contact your service provider first before sending money to anyone.