Omaha Public Power District customers are reporting a spike in scam phone calls today. The utility has received more than 60 reports of these calls so far today, and that number continues to climb.
This long-running scam targets utilities here in our area and across the nation. Calls tend to pick up steam several times a year. Right now, scammers may be trying to take advantage of customers who are feeling vulnerable due to the pandemic.
Their tactics are typically the same – falsely claiming to represent the utility and trying to convince customers they owe money. They can be quite aggressive in their tone, instructing customers to use a pre-paid card to settle up. They threaten to disconnect service if customers do not pay. They often use “spoofing” technology so that caller identification appears to show a legitimate OPPD phone number.
None of these calls are from the utility. Our call center representatives would never cold-call a customer demanding immediate payment. If customers were truly overdue on their bills to the point where service could be disconnected, they would receive written notice first. Authentic utility representatives never request payment via a purchased payment card.
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 who have questions about their bill status or in need of financial assistance should call us at 402-536-4131 in the Omaha metro area or 877-536-4131 outside of the Omaha area. We want to work with customers to set up workable payment plans or connect them with assistance resources. Financial help is available through the state, local organizations, and also through CARES Act funding. Call us or visit The Wire to learn more.