Omaha Public Power District has received 70 reports so far today from customers who have received scam phone calls. Scammers are making it look like they’re calling from OPPD’s real toll-free customer service number in order to appear more legitimate, a practice known as spoofing.
These cons are not new. Scammers have been aggressively targeting utility customers across the country for years, now. Several times a year, like today, OPPD will receive a spike in the number of reports from our customers.
The callers pretend to be OPPD employees and demand payment from customers on bills they claim are overdue. They try to get their targets to give up credit, debit or checking account information over the phone to make a payment, or to purchase a payment card, such as a Green Dot card, from a nearby store. With purchased cards, they instruct customers to call them back with the numbers.
While most of the calls we’re hearing about today are spoofing OPPD’s legitimate customer service number, 1-877-536-4131, they are asking customers to call a different number back to pay up. That’s a red flag, as is the fact that OPPD would NEVER cold call customers and aggressively demand payment.
Another tactic scammers have used recently is trying to convince Automatic Bill Payment customers that there’s been a bank error, and they need to pay ASAP to avoid shut off. In the past, they’ve tried to convince customers they need to pay for equipment, such as a new meter.
OPPD stresses that NONE of these people demanding payments or financial information works for the utility. OPPD advises customers:
- NEVER give personal or financial information to a stranger during an unsolicited phone call.
- If such a person should appear unannounced at one’s door, claiming to work for the utility, do NOT allow them inside. Always ask for identification or verification. OPPD employees always carry identification. Failure to produce identification should be a tip-off to the customer that something is wrong.
- NEVER turn off security systems for any reason if a stranger asks.
- Any customer who receives such a request should call law enforcement immediately.
Customers with questions about making a payment, or about their account in general, should always call OPPD directly. Within Omaha, the number is 402-536-4131.
Customers in our rural areas may talk with their local offices during business hours, as well.
Outside of Omaha, customers should call 1-877-536-4131. Do not trust phone calls coming in from this number and demanding payment. Hang up and dial back yourself, so you can be sure you are speaking with OPPD.