MidAmerican Energy Company is warning business owners and the public of a phone scam targeting utility customers in Council Bluffs and western Iowa. Criminals posing as utility customer service agents are trying to get money from customers by threatening service disconnection. The scam is occurring nationwide, but in recent days, several businesses across the state have reported receiving calls from people identifying themselves as representatives of MidAmerican Energy.
The criminals are using sophisticated deceptive tactics that make it appear to Caller ID systems that the scam call is coming from the utility when it is not. If customers receive such a call demanding
immediate payment to avoid disconnection of service, hang up and instead call MidAmerican Energy at 1-888-427-5632 to verify the call’s origins.
Some business owners noted that even though they found the circumstances suspicious, they went ahead and made the payments because the caller was very insistent and persuasive. It was only after the fact, when they contacted MidAmerican Energy directly, that they realized they had been scammed.
In order to help customers recognize the fraudulent calls, in general, the scam works like this:
Scammers call residential or business customers demanding payment for overdue bills. Sometimes, the caller tells the intended victim that they owe a specific amount of money. The thief advises the customer to make a payment in one of two ways: either immediately on the phone via credit card, or by going to a local store to purchase a pre-paid card and calling back a special toll-free number, made to resemble MidAmerican Energy’s phone response system, and providing the pre-paid card’s code
to the phony “agent.”
MidAmerican Energy wants customers to be aware that this is a scam and not a legitimate request. MidAmerican Energy does not use these methods. If such a call is received, hang up and call 1-888-427-5632 to inquire about the call with MidAmerican Energy.
Some tips to help customers recognize a scam call:
* The caller is threatening immediate disconnection. Sometimes the caller will
claim a crew is already en route to the business to disconnect service. If you
receive such a call, hang up immediately and call MidAmerican Energy customer
service. MidAmerican Energy makes several attempts to contact customers regarding
overdue bills; disconnection is a last resort, not a first step in the process.
* The caller insists on a prepaid debit card (often a Green Dot card) as the
only acceptable form of payment. MidAmerican Energy accepts several different
forms of payment; a company customer service representative can go over your
options with you.
* The caller asks you for credit card numbers, account numbers, balances or
other personal information. MidAmerican Energy representatives will not ask you
for this information over the phone.