Electric bill scam strikes again; Norfolk targeted

July 30, 2015

NPPD warns customers to not fall for demands

 Columbus, Neb. – It is happening again in Norfolk. A phone scam in which business owners and residents are falsely threatened their electricity will be shut off if they do not pay their electric bill immediately with a pre-paid, “Greendot” card.

The ruse

Individuals, posing as representatives of the local power company – in this case, the Nebraska Public Power District – tell the customer they are overdue on their electric bill and must pay up within 20 minutes or be disconnected. They are then instructed to purchase pre-paid cards in order to make immediate payment.

Several businesses in the Norfolk area, including restaurants, were unfortunate victims of the deception today with the calls coming at busy times of a company’s operation.

NPPD’s practice

“NPPD does not do business this way,” said NPPD’s Customer Care Business Manager Robyn Tweedy. “If a customer is overdue on their electric bill and subject to disconnection, it will be printed on their monthly bill with instructions on what they can do to settle the account. They should call the number printed on the bill, NOT the phone number of the individual making the phone request.”

Customers who receive such a call should not attempt to make any payment and contact local law enforcement and NPPD’s Centralized Customer Care Center at 1-877-ASK-NPPD (877-275-6773) to report the request.

The malicious practice has affected many utilities, in addition to NPPD. It has also happened in other states, and has occurred as recently in Nebraska as April of this year. Based upon past history, other communities across the state could be targeted within the next few weeks.

“Once the public recognizes the ploy, the scammers will take advantage of another community in the state. This deceitful scheme may not be isolated to just larger communities,” said Tweedy. “We expect similar calls may begin occurring in some other Nebraska towns, including towns served by NPPD such as Kearney, York, and Scottsbluff.

If an individual or business not served by NPPD receives a call demanding payment on their electric bill, they are encouraged to contact their local electric provider to check on their account before making any attempt to pay.

Always there when you need us, NPPD’s mission is to safely generate and deliver reliable, low-cost sustainable energy and provide outstanding customer service. Working in partnership with the state’s rural public power districts, cooperatives and municipalities, NPPD helps serve an estimated 600,000 Nebraskans in 86 of the state’s 93 counties with retail or wholesale electric power and energy-related products and services.

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