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Apr 29 , 2013
 
Posted by Debbie Simock
 
Be on alert to a national phone scam targeting utility customers that is currently happening in our area. Individuals misrepresenting themselves as Avista employees are calling customers threatening to turn off electric and gas service if payment is not made to them that day.
 
How it works:
- A caller identifying him or herself as an Avista employee tells customers that their account is past due or there is problem with their account.
- Your caller ID may show that the call is coming from Avista even if it is not. This is called caller ID spoofing.
- Customers are told they must purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak or go to a retail location and make a same day payment to avoid a disconnection of service that day.
- Customers are told to use cash to put money onto the card, and then provide the number on the card to the person who called them. At that point, your funds are going to the scammer, not where you thought.
 
What to do if you get a call:
 
When Avista makes an outbound phone call to customers, the caller ID will identify the call as coming from Avista. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be an Avista representative demanding immediate payment, using high pressure tactics or asking for your confidential information, end the call without providing any information and phone us at (800) 227-9187. That’s our customer service number, which is also located on your Avista bill.
 
As a precaution, you should shred your Avista bill to protect your private account information which includes your payment due date, amount of payment due and account number.
 
Door-to-Door Sales:
 
Also be alert to door-to-door sales personnel who claim to represent Avista and our programs. Any Avista employee or authorized contractor will have in their possession their Avista photo identification badge. Ask to see it if you are in doubt. If they don’t have identification, you can ask them to leave. Authorized contractors also have vehicle signs stating they are under contract to Avista and will have Avista program material.
 
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. Customers should report it to local law enforcement if they believe they have been the target of a scam.
 
Published: 4/29/2013  12:39 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 17 , 2013
 
Posted by Debbie Simock
 
Caller demanding immediate payment in unusual manner to avoid disconnection of service
 
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.
Published: 4/17/2013  9:37 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 10 , 2013
Avista Playhouse
 
Posted by Laurine Jue
 
Your friends and neighbors will be green with envy if you win the playhouse that Avista employees built to support a brand new community fundraising event called Project Playhouse Spokane.
 
The 8-foot square playhouse sits atop a giant wooden recycled cable spool, has a solar panel that powers LED lights inside the playhouse and here’s the best feature – there’s a turbine-like propeller mounted on the exterior that you can spin by turning the attached wheel inside the playhouse. How cool is that?!
 
It’s sure to provide tons of fun for your children or grandkids! It could be yours – if you have the winning bid!
 
Avista’s playhouse will be one of 10 whimsical playhouses that will be auctioned off this Saturday to raise funds for the West Central Community Center, Northeast Youth Center and Peaceful Valley Community Center. All three centers provide support for local children and youth.
 
Avista employees volunteered their time and talent to design and build the playhouse. About half of the $3,000 in materials was donated by several vendors, while Avista contributed the other half, along with lots of creativity and enthusiasm.
 
“It was really fun to see it all come together. We used wind power as our design inspiration to give the playhouse an ‘energy’ theme. With the propeller for a wind turbine, solar panel, LED lights and recycled cable spool, it actually looks like something you’d expect to be created by a utility. We’re even including some safety cones and hard hats with the playhouse,” said Avista’s Jayson Hunnel, who spearheaded the effort and rallied employees to help build the creation.
 
It’s exciting for Avista to be part of the first-time ever Project Playhouse Spokane Auction. Let’s see how much money we can raise for the three centers and the children and youth that will benefit from the auction proceeds.
 
This is just one example of how Avista and our employees contribute our time, talent and treasure to the communities we serve.
 
For more information on Project Playhouse Spokane, call the West Central Community Center at 509-323-7480.
 
Published: 4/10/2013  1:01 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post