Scam call reports to Omaha Public Power District are on the rise today. The utility wants to warn customers not to fall for aggressive callers, claiming to represent the utility, and demanding payment.
As of 2:30 p.m., we’ve received around 50 reports of scam phone calls from our customers.
These con-artists are known to target utilities not only here, but across the country. They hit the phones hard several times a year, trying to convince customers that they owe money on their utility bills or that they need to pay for other equipment or services. The last such spike in calls, as we alerted the public, occurred in mid-February.
Often, the scammers use “spoofing” technology so that caller identification appears to show a legitimate OPPD phone number. Customers tell us today’s calls look like they are coming from the 402 area code. In reality, these scammers could be calling from anywhere in the world.
They try to get their targets to give up credit, debit or checking account information over the phone to make a payment, or to purchase a pre-paid debit card, such as a Green Dot card, from a nearby store. With purchased cards, they instruct customers to call them back with the numbers. They threaten to disconnect service soon if customers do not pay.
OPPD stresses that none of these people demanding payments or financial information works for the utility. The utility never cold calls customers demanding payment.
OPPD advises customers:
- NEVER give out personal or financial information on an unsolicited phone call.
- If you have any question about your bill status, HANG UP, and call OPPD directly.
- Those within the Omaha calling area should dial 402-536-4131.
- Customers outside of the metro area should call 1-877-536-4131, toll-free.
- Be suspicious of any emails you receive regarding your utility bill if you have not opted in to online communications from OPPD. Do NOT click on suspicious links. And NEVER provide personal information via email.
- Do not respond to text messages seeking personal information or utility bill payments. Do not click on links within such messages.
- If such a person should appear unannounced at one’s door, claiming to work for the utility, do not allow them inside. Always 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.
- Never turn off security systems for any reason if a stranger asks. Any customer who receives such a request should call law enforcement immediately.