We are receiving an increased number of customer reports of utility scam phone calls today – more than 20 so far and climbing - and these calls sound disturbingly authentic. It’s the latest way these phone thieves are trying to steal our customer’s money.
This long-running con targets customers of utilities here in our area and across the nation. Scammers typically call customers, claiming they are overdue on bills and need to buy a gift card or pre-paid credit card of some sort to settle up. Otherwise, they claim, power will be disconnected.
In the calls we’re hearing about today, the phone numbers coming across on caller identification are varied. However, the callers are all urging customers to call back the same number, which appears to be toll-free. It is NOT an OPPD phone number. When customers dial this phone number, they will hear a stolen recording of an actual OPPD message. However, when they choose an option, the call takes customers directly to scammers.
Like scam calls we’ve reported about previously, callers are telling customers if they do not pay up, they will be disconnected in 30 minutes. In one reported case, a customer reported that scammers texted them and provided a barcode to use when paying at one of the stores where OPPD has partnered with MoneyGram for mobile payments. If that customer had done so, they would have paid a scammer.
OPPD warns customers to NEVER provide personal or financial information during an unsolicited phone call, and NEVER click on unsolicited text links. ALWAYS call OPPD directly at 402-536-4131 in the Omaha calling area or 877-536-4131 outside of the Omaha area if you have a bill question.
OPPD is working in partnership with other local public power utilities to raise awareness among our customers, identify scammers’ trends, and get their phone numbers shut down, when possible. We are working to do this with today’s phone calls. And again, we want to remind our customers:
- NONE of these calls or text messages are from the utility. Our call center representatives would never cold-call a customer demanding immediate payment. If customers were truly overdue on their bills to the point where service could be disconnected, they would receive written notice first. Authentic utility representatives never request payment via a purchased payment card.
- NEVER give personal or financial information to a stranger during an unsolicited phone call.
- Do NOT allow entrance to a person, without proper credentials or utility authorization, appearing unannounced at your door claiming to work for OPPD.
- 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.
- Be wary of sales pitches from companies claiming to represent or work with OPPD.
Again, customers who have any questions about service, their account or bill status, or if in need of financial assistance should call us at 402-536-4131 in the Omaha calling area or 877-536-4131 outside of the Omaha area.