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OPPD warns of increased scam calls due to flooding

Posted at 5:48 PM, Mar 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-16 18:48:01-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha Public Power District urges customers to be aware of possible utility scam calls due to historic flooding.

A press release from OPPD says scam calls aren't a new problem -- scammers have made utility customers a target across the country for years. However, an uptick of scams are reported during or after highly publicized weather events, likely because con-artists want to take advantage of the vulnerability of customers.

Scammers will call customers pretending to be OPPD, trying to convince customers that they owe money due to overdue bills or equipment such as meters. These scammers are often aggressive, demanding payments via credit, debit, or pre-paid cards, threatening customers if they fail to pay up fast.

OPPD says scammers sometimes use "spoofing" technology so the caller ID appears as a legitimate OPPD phone number.

A newer twist has occurred lately involving robocalls that scammers use to send their messages. The utility stresses that they never cold-call customers demanding immediate payment.

In 2018, OPPD logged a total of 714 reports from customers who received scam phone calls. Unfortunately, 28 of those customers actually paid the scammers.

OPPD advises customers to never give personal or financial information to a stranger, to never allow those claiming to work for the utility inside of homes without proper identification, and to never turn off security systems for any reason if a stranger asks.

Customers who receive such requests are asked to immediately call law enforcement.