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How to avoid utility scams this holiday season

Blog Post
Illustration of a person sitting at a desk with a computer on it. The person has one hand on their head and the other reaching out towards the computer screen. A hand reaches out from the computer screen and grabs a credit card from the person's outreached hand. There is a caution symbol above the computer screen.
Learn how to spot and avoid potential scams.

Guests are coming soon for the holidays, and you’re busy cleaning, cooking, and decorating. So, what do you do when you get a call saying that your water will be shut off in the next two hours?

Here’s what you should do: Hang up and call the Water Bureau at 503-823-7770.

The holidays are a busy time, and some scammers try to take advantage of the hectic holidays by calling or showing up at your door and threatening utility service shutoffs or fines and penalties.

Don’t take the bait.

5 Tips for Avoiding Scams

Not sure if a scammer is targeting you and your money? The following red flags can help you spot and avoid scams.

  • Prepaid debit cards. Scammers often demand payment from prepaid cards. The Water Bureau will never ask that you make a payment by using a prepaid debit card. We accept payment by check, money order, debit or credit card, or cash. Register for our online payment system to check the status of your account or to sign up for AutoPay. Learn more about all your payment options.
  • “Payment is required immediately.” Scammers often use threats of immediate water shutoffs to scare victims into paying. If you feel pressured for immediate payment, hang up the phone and call our Customer Service Center at 503-823-7770.
  • Knocking on your door or asking to come in. Remember: Our service ends at the water meter, usually located at your curb. Unless you have a scheduled appointment with a Water Bureau representative, we’ll never ask to enter your home. And we always carry City-issued identification.
  • Check the email address. If you receive an email that claims to be from the Water Bureau, look at the sender’s email address. Invoice notices will come from City of Portland, Oregon, with the email address (Invoice Cloud is the bureau’s bill pay and paperless billing provider.) Emails directly from a city employee will come from Questions? Get in touch!
  • Water line insurance offers. Sometimes our customers receive offers to purchase water line insurance. While this type of insurance may not be a scam, the Water Bureau is a public utility and does not contract or affiliate with any insurance providers. Before agreeing to an offer, make sure to read reviews of the company online and to clarify what is being insured.

Suspect a scam? Report it.

If you think you’ve spotted a water related scam, please let us know by calling us at 503-823-7770 or emailing When you let us know about potential scams, we warn others to make sure the scam is stopped.

You can also report suspected scams to the Federal Trade Commission to alert federal authorities.