ANCHORAGE -

Chugach Electric is warning its customers of a returning scam targeting its customers, as callers threaten to disconnect people’s power unless they immediately pay fraudulent electric bills over the phone.

According to a statement from Chugach Electric spokesperson Sarah Wiggers, the general outline used by the scammers follows a national template.

“One of the scams in use around the country -- including in Alaska -- is to call people up and threaten that their electric service will be disconnected immediately if a supposed past-due bill isn’t paid,” Wiggers wrote. “The goal of the scammers is to obtain credit card or other financial information.”

Although Wiggers doesn’t have an exact total for the number of reports concerning the scam that have come in to Chugach’s call center, she does say the increase is relatively recent and hasn’t apparently seen anybody get bilked yet.

“It’s been in the last month that we’ve had customers calling,” Wiggers said. “As far as I know, we don’t have any customers that have lost money to this scam.”

Municipal Light and Power spokesperson Ronnie Dent hasn’t seen a corresponding increase in reports of scammer calls, but says ML&P dealt with a wave of calls last fall similar to what Chugach has seen.

“From time to time, we get scam notices from our customers,” Dent said. “Usually, we’ll get one or two calls from customers to know what’s going on.”

Both Wiggers and Dent are adamant that their utilities will not threaten to immediately disconnect power over the phone.

“It’s just nice to let our customers know that we don’t do business that way,” Wiggers said.

Both firms advise anyone who receives a similar call to immediately hang up, report the call to customer service with either Chugach at 563-7366 or ML&P at 263-5340, and file an online fraud report with the Anchorage Police Department.

APD spokesperson Anita Shell says that while it’s important for scam victims to report fraudulent calls, the first line of defense for people's pocketbooks is a healthy dose of skepticism.

“Usually these people are calling from out-of-state and it’s very hard to prosecute -- so just buyer beware,” Shell said.