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NPPD warns customers of widespread telephone scam targeting electricity customers


From the October 11, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published October 11, 2013

By Jeannine Anderson
Editor
The Nebraska Public Power District said yesterday it is warning electricity customers about a telephone scam that has been reported in a number of states.

The scam involves telephone callers claiming to be from a utility company and then using various techniques to defraud customers. Some threaten customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they do not make a payment immediately.  The scam artist instructs them to send money via prepaid card or online payment service, such as PayPal or GreenDot, before their power is shut off.  The scammer’s caller-ID is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as ‘spoofing.’

Some customers in Nebraska reportedly are being asked for credit card numbers, NPPD said, although NPPD itself, as a business practice, does not ask for a credit card number.

"We have reports of several calls already from customers who have been contacted by this method. We urge all who are contacted to call their utility before providing any type of payment to a request such as this," said Ken Curry, NPPD vice-president of customer service. 

Any customers who receive such a call should not attempt to make any payment and should instead contact their utility's customer service department, NPPD said. Customers also are encouraged to contact local law enforcement if they get any suspicious calls demanding immediate payment of their electric bill.

NPPD said electric customers have been targeted in several states besides Nebraska, including Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and New Mexico.
 

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Jeanne Wickline LaBella
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