Scammers have been busy over the summer, trying to con Omaha Public Power District customers and those of other utilities. The over-the-phone ploys attempt to intimidate customers into thinking their power could be cut off if they don’t pay hundreds of dollars.
OPPD stresses that none of these individuals demanding cash payments or financial information work for the utility.
OPPD received 37 reports of these phony bill collector calls in June and nine more in July. There's been an increase this month with 36 reports as of Thursday.
The callers pretending to represent the utility often claim their targets are overdue on their bills. In most cases, they try to convince the customer to give them credit card numbers over the phone in order to put their account in good standing. Sometimes, they tell customers to purchase a green dot card and call back with those numbers. In rare instances, callers have even attempted to get customers to meet them in-person to make such a payment.
A newer angle the scammers are using is to falsely tell customers that OPPD is changing out meters and they have to pay a security deposit or they will experience service blackouts.
In the past, scammers have also asked customers to turn off home or business security systems to “help the utility save energy,” falsely claiming it’s a good way for the customer to “reduce the energy bill.”
With regards to these con attempts, OPPD advises:
Residential or business customers should never give personal or financial information to a stranger during an unsolicited telephone call.
If such a person should appear unannounced at one’s door claiming to work for the utility, do not allow them entrance and always ask for identification or verification. OPPD employees always carry identification. Failure to produce identification should always be a tip-off to the customer that something is wrong.
They should also refuse to turn off their security systems if a stranger asks them to do so. They should call law enforcement immediately.
Customers with questions about payment or their account should call OPPD directly at 402-536-4131 within Omaha or 1-877-536-4131 from outside Omaha.