The Omaha Public Power District is again warning customers to be aware of a billing scam targeting residential and business customers with Latino surnames.
Over the past month, nearly 80 customers have reported receiving calls from people falsely claiming to represent OPPD. Most of those reporting the scam speak Spanish as their first language and most of them report the caller spoke Spanish as well.
In the past, most of the calls centered around bills. Callers claimed customers owed the utility money and that their services would be cut off if they didn’t pay, over the phone, immediately. Recent calls have also alleged customers’ meters or transformers were not working properly and that customers needed to pay to replace the equipment. One customer reported the caller threatened that his house would burn down due to faulty equipment if he didn’t pay for repairs right away.
Scammers have instructed customers to pay with a credit card in some cases. In others they were instructed to purchase Visa gift cards worth hundreds of dollars and call the phony reps back with the numbers. In one case, a customer was told a rep would come to her house to collect the gift card. She did not fall for the scam and instead notified OPPD and the Omaha Police Department. A handful of customers admit they did fall prey to the con artists.
OPPD stresses that none of these individuals demanding cash payments or financial information work for them. 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 let them in. 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.
If a customer has a particular question about payment or their account, that customer is advised to call OPPD at 402-536-4131 within Omaha or 1-877-536-4131 outside of Omaha.