Omaha Public Power District customers are reporting a spike in scam phone calls today. The utility had received around 100 reports by early afternoon.
In 2019, OPPD received 1,336 reports of calls from scammers. That’s a 102% increase from five years ago. And the problem shows no signs of slowing.
This long-running scam targets utilities here in our area and across the nation. 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. Often, the scammers 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 would never request payment via a purchased pre-paid credit or gift card.
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. OPPD is working with a leading toll-free phone number registry management company. As numbers are reported and verified to be non-OPPD numbers, we can get the phone number 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.
Customers in our rural areas may talk with their local offices during business hours, as well.