There have been an increased number of phone scam reports this week to the Nebraska Public Power District by customers, spokesman Mark Becker said Friday.
Incidents in Kearney and O’Neill have prompted the company to advise all customers, statewide, to be wary of suspicious calls.
Customers report scam calls from someone who says they are with “the electric utility” and are collecting for a past due amount on an electric bill. They say 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 Kearney, the scammer told the electric customer to go to a store, buy a “green dot” or pre-paid card, and then call back with the card information.
In O’Neill, NPPD customers were 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.
NPPD offers these tips and suggestions:
• NPPD, as a business practice, does not call to ask customers for a credit card number.
• 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 located.
• Contact law enforcement.
• 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 giving out any type of payment.
“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.”