Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden Friday warned Idaho businesses and consumers to be wary of telephone calls demanding immediate payment of utility bills.
Idaho Power notified Wasden's office that several customers have received threatening phone calls. The calls, which so far have targeted the owners of Chinese restaurants, are not from Idaho Power, Wasden said.
"The caller threatens to shut off the power unless the business immediately pays several hundred to several thousand dollars via wire transfer or Green Dot Money Pack," he said. "These calls are fraudulent."
Idaho Power has received reports of the attempted scam from the owners of Chinese restaurants in Boise, Mountain Home, Pocatello and Blackfoot.
"We advise our customers to not make payments to these callers or disclose any personal or account information to anyone claiming to be from Idaho Power, said Maggie Brilz, Idaho Power Customer Service Manager. Anyone who is concerned about the legitimacy of a call from Idaho Power should just hang up the phone and call us directly at the Customer Service Center."
Customers can call the Idaho Power Customer Service Center at 388-2323 or 1-800-488-6151 outside the Treasure Valley.
Anyone who has lost money to the scam should call their local police agency, Wasden said, calling the calls "an attempt to commit a criminal fraud.
A similar scam directed to residential customers was reported in May 2012, and again last month. That version of the scam targeted Hispanic customers with phone calls, in Spanish, demanding personal information for the purpose of identity theft.