NPPD warns customers to not fall for demands
Columbus, Neb. – The scam is back and working its way across the state of Nebraska in a number of communities. This phone scammer contacts business owners and residents and falsely threatens their electricity will be shut off if they do not pay their electric bill immediately with a pre-paid “Greendot” card.
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.
A number of businesses in Kearney, Ogallala and Norfolk, and some communities served by rural public power districts, have been contacted by phone through this deceptive practice since late last week and the activity has increased, with the calls demanding payment coming at busy times of a company’s operation.
“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. Instead contact local law enforcement and NPPD’s Centralized Customer Care Center at 1-877-ASK-NPPD (877-275-6773) to report the request and provide the call-back number. 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.
The malicious practice has affected many utilities, in addition to NPPD. It has also happened in other states, and has occurred as recently as last fall in Nebraska. 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.”