OPPD, Governor warn against utility scams

Posted at 10:04 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 23:28:44-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha's Public Power District wants people to be aware of a rise in scam calls due to COVID-19.

"We really want customers to be armed with information so they don't fall for these scams," OPPD's Jodi Baker said.

OPPD says customers have reported an increased amount of scam calls during the pandemic.

"Right now it's so important to have that electricity and so that's what they're capitalizing on," Baker said.

Baker tells 3 News Now many scammers have tried tricking people into thinking their power will be shut off if they don't pay up.

""They'll call customers, sometimes they'll even spoof numbers, to appear legitimate like they're actually the utility calling these customers, so don't rely on your caller ID," she said. "What they'll do is they'll call, [and] they'll be aggressive if customers don't pay a bill that they claim is overdue."

Baker says scammers have also claimed a customer's meter needed to be replaced, which is something OPPD says they'd never charge for.

Governor Pete Ricketts also weighed on the issue during his press conference Monday afternoon.

"Our public utilities have asked me to help get that word out that they are not going to be calling you to tell you that you need to pay your bill or you're going to be cut off, he said. "Most of them have discontinued that anyway, but they never to do that, it is a scam so don't fall for it. "

So far, OPPD says customers have reported 155 scam calls, of those reports, 33 of them came as recent as Monday.

Baker says customers should worry about disconnections due to late bills during the pandemic.

"We want our customers to have power when they need it most," she said. "People are working from home, taking care of their kids, kids are e-learning and we know this is a really tough time."

Baker tells 3 News Now the company's moratorium has been extended, so utilities won't be disconnected until 30 days after the state's final directed health measure ends in the 13 counties OPPD services.

OPPD says it will work with customers who are behind on their bill, whether it's helping them start a payment plan or connecting them with community resources.