There have been an increased number of phone scam incidents reported
this week to the Nebraska Public Power District by NPPD customers, and it could happen to you.
Incidents in Kearney and O'Neill have prompted NPPD to advise all customers, statewide, to be wary of suspicious calls.
Customers have reported receiving scam calls from individuals stating that they are with 'the electric utility' and they are collecting for a past due amount on an electric bill. They state the bill must be paid immediately or the power will be shut off. Sometimes the scammer's caller-identification is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as 'spoofing'.
In the case of a Kearney customer, the caller advised to go to a local store, purchase a "green dot" or pre-paid card, then contact the caller with the card information.
In O'Neill, NPPD customers have been told there would be a 'meter upgrade' or a power outage, situations that sound like utility business, but when questions are asked, the caller hangs up or puts the customer on hold.
To help customers be wary of such scams, NPPD offers the following tips and suggestions:
* NPPD, as a business practice, does not call to ask customers for a credit card number, nor do any of the local utility companies
* NPPD does not demand payment with a pre-paid card.
* Any customer receiving such a call should not attempt to make payment over the phone.
* Write down the call back number or consider asking where the caller is
* Contact law enforcement. This step is very important.
* Let NPPD's Centralized Customer Care Center at 1-877-ASK-NPPD
(877-275-6773) know about the call.
* If served electrically by a rural public power district or municipality, customers should contact that organization before providing any type of payment. The number for CPPD is 308-872-24751
"Unfortunately, these scams take place every year throughout the country," said Vice President of Customer Services Ken Curry. "Anyone who receives such a call should not let their guard down. Instead, know that NPPD offers a variety of payment plans to help customers who may have challenges paying their bills, and inform local law enforcement of the incident."