Better Business Bureau and MidAmerican Energy Offer Tips to Avoid Getting Caught Up in a Utility Scam

August 05, 2014

BBB’s across the country have been receiving an influx of calls about a scam involving their local utility company. Here’s how the scam works: A con-artist calls an individual or business and claims to be a representative from the local utility company. The con-artist proceeds to tell the recipient of the phone call of a large, overdue balance and that he/she needs to pay immediately or their utilities will be turned off.

In some instances, the scammer instructs the individual or business owner to purchase a GreenDot Money Pak card, or another form of prepaid debit card, and provides a call back number. The individual is instructed to provide the scammer with PIN and account numbers. Unfortunately, once this information is provided, any amount of money loaded onto the debit card is gone.

If you or your business receives a similar call, don’t be pressured to pay immediately. Instead, verify the alleged overdue balance by hanging up the phone and contacting your utility company by calling the number on your statement. Also, it should always be considered a red flag if someone asks for payment via a prepaid debit card. Lastly, share this information with your neighbors and employees, to help stop this scam from perpetuating.

MidAmerican Energy reminds customers that credit card information, account numbers and other personal information should never be provided in response to an unsolicited call. To avoid getting scammed, the BBB offers the following advice:

  • Don’t automatically assume that what is displayed on your caller-ID is accurate. Con-artists can change the number that shows up on your caller-ID to make it appear legitimate and/or local.
  • Don’t be pressured by immediate demands for payment. Hang up and call your utility company using the number from your statement.
  • Don’t give out your account number or other personal information to someone soliciting you. MidAmerican already knows your account number. They will never call you and ask you to verify it.
  • Know your options. MidAmerican Energy offers a number of bill payment methods. Contact them for assistance if you are late or behind on your bills.

If you suspect you have been the victim or target of this scam, call the BBB and your local utility company to report any fraudulent activity. Recognizing a scam is the first step in stopping con-artists in their tracks.