Columbus, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District is warning customers of a phone scam spreading across the country in an attempt to defraud customers of electric utilities.
The scam involves telephone callers claiming to be from a utility company and then employing a variety of techniques to defraud customers. Some threaten customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they don’t make a payment immediately. The scam artist instructs them to send money via prepaid card or online payment service, such as PayPal or GreenDot, before their power is shut off. The scammer’s caller-ID is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as ‘spoofing.’
Reports in Nebraska indicate that customers are being asked for credit card numbers. NPPD, as a business practice, does not ask for a credit card number.
“We have reports of several calls already from customers who have been contacted by this method. We urge all who are contacted to call their utility before providing any type of payment to a request such as this,” said Ken Curry, NPPD vice-president of customer service.
NPPD customers who receive such a call should not attempt to make any payment and contact NPPD’s Centralized Customer Care Center at 1-877-ASK-NPPD (877-275-6773) to report the request. If served electrically by a rural public power district or municipality, customers should contact that organization before providing any type of payment.
Customers are also encouraged to contact local law enforcement about any suspicious calls demanding immediate payment of their electric bill.
Electric customers have been targeted in several states besides Nebraska, including Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and New Mexico.