In the past two days, Omaha Public Power District has received two dozen reports from customers who received scam phone calls. Scammers may be trying to take advantage of the increased number of people who are working from home or who have students taking classes online, due to COVID-19. However, most calls Wednesday were targeted at local businesses.
In this long-running scam happening all across the country, aggressive callers pose as utility workers, trying to convince customers they owe money. They often instruct customers to use a pre-paid debit, gift or Green Dot card to settle up. Callers threaten to disconnect service if customers do not pay.
The past couple of days, we’ve heard from a number of customers that the scammers used “spoofing” technology so that the call comes up, appearing to be “OPPD” on caller identification. Callers claimed they’d need to come out and replace a meter, which the customer would have to pay for. They provided a toll-free number for the customer to call back in order to make the payment. OPPD would NEVER charge for a meter replacement.
The other scenario we’ve heard about recently is that customers will get a call that shows up as “NPPD,” with scammers pretending to work for Nebraska Public Power District. In those calls, customers have been told their power will be turned off within 30-minutes if they do not pay up immediately.
This is NOT how utilities operate. They would NEVER cold call customers demanding immediate payment, and certainly not through a pre-paid card of any sort.
Also, keep in mind, OPPD has announced suspension of all disconnections for non-payment until April 30, at which point we will re-evaluate. We do not want our customers to have to worry about electricity right now, when they need it most.
If you receive such a call, hang up.
OPPD continues to work in partnership with local public power utilities to raise awareness among our customers and identify scam trends. If customers receive such a call, they can help us by noting the phone number used and reporting it to OPPD. We are working with a leading toll-free phone number registry management company to get these non-OPPD numbers shut down.
OPPD stresses that customers should never give personal or financial information to a stranger during an unsolicited phone call. If such a person should appear at their door unannounced, claiming to work for the utility, ask for identification or verification. OPPD employees always carry identification. Failure to produce identification is a tip-off to the customer that something is wrong.
Customers with questions about making a payment, or about their account in general, should always call OPPD directly. Within Omaha, the number is 402-536-4131. Outside of Omaha, customers should call 1-877-536-4131.