Des Moines, Iowa – MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy are teaming up to fight back against telephone scams. Phone billing scams targeting utility customers are a daily battle for electric and gas companies. Many customers have lost money because they provided the scam callers with a credit card number or a prepaid debit card.
Since the beginning of the year, customers of MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy have reported more than 400 fraudulent calls. Utility fraud schemes have swept the nation, targeting residential and business customers. In Iowa, small businesses and Spanish-speaking customers seem to be the most frequent targets.
In most scam cases, callers pose as utility employees and threaten to shut off power unless the customer makes a payment. Scammers are persistent and aggressive. They use sophisticated methods to trick customers, which include:
· Spoofing Caller ID to make the call appear as if it is coming from the utility.
· Requiring customers to make an immediate payment using either a credit card over the phone or a pre-paid (Green Dot) card.
· Impersonating energy auditors in an attempt to get inside homes or businesses.
· Intimidating customers by showing up at their front doors or claiming a crew is en route to disconnect service.
· Claiming there is an issue with electric or natural gas service equipment inside or outside the house and requesting immediate payment.
Customers who receive a suspicious call should hang up and call local police and their energy provider to report the scam and check on the status of their account. Call MidAmerican Energy at 1-888-427-5632 or Alliant Energy at 1-800-255-4268.
Protecting customers from scams is a top priority for Alliant Energy and MidAmerican Energy. They want to educate customers on how to avoid falling victim. If customers are behind on bills, they will receive several notifications; disconnection is a last resort, not a first step in the process. Both companies accept many different forms of payment. A specific payment method is never required when paying your bill.
Customers should follow these steps to stay safe:
· Never give out personal information such as credit card or account numbers. Utilities will not ask for this information over the phone.
· Ask for proper identification from anyone who approaches you. Call your energy provider to verify the purpose for the visit. Use the number published on the website or in the phone book.