OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) says they're receiving customer reports of calls from scammers posing as utility employees, likely taking advantage of widespread outages in the metro over the last few days.
The scam has been going on for years, according to OPPD, with callers targeting utility customers throughout the U.S.
News about weather events and power outages often spark an increase in calls.
Scammers seem to attempt to take advantage of customers who are already feeling vulnerable as thousands are still without power in the area.
Spoofing technology is often used by scammers so that caller identification appears to show a legitimate OPPD phone number.
In typical cases, scammers try convincing customers they owe on their bill and need to pay immediately over the phone or risk disconnection.
Occasionally scammers falsely claim that customers need to pay for equipment, such as meters.
They try to get targets to give up credit, debit or pre-paid card numbers over the phone.
OPPD warns that these callers don't represent the utility and they never cold-call customers demanding payment.
Additionally, OPPD isn't currently disconnecting power for non-payment due to the challenges many customers are currently facing. That moratorium extends through July 26.
Those who receive suspicious calls are urged to hang up and call OPPD at 402-536-4131. Outside of Omaha, customers can call 1-877-536-4131.
OPPD advises customers:
· Never give personal or financial information to a stranger during an unsolicited phone call, whether live or automated.
· Be suspicious of any emails you receive regarding your utility bill if you have not opted into online communications from OPPD. Never provide personal information via email, and do not click on suspicious links.
· Do not respond to text messages seeking personal information or utility bill payments or click on links within such messages.