DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) – MidAmerican Energy Company customers have reported three separate imposter scams that threaten to disconnect victims’ electric service unless they pay immediately by phone with a prepaid money card.
According to MidAmerican Energy, scammers pretend to represent a utility company or the Iowa Utilities Board.
The three main scams that have been reported over the last week are listed below according to the MidAmerican Energy Company and Iowa Utilities Board.
- On Monday, two Iowans reported getting a text message with a MidAmerican Energy logo. The message instructed them to call the number within the message immediately regarding a “cancelation of your electricity” service. The toll-free number displayed has been disconnected and is not a legitimate MidAmerican number.
- Over the past week, several MidAmerican customers have reported that a robocall or live-caller contacted them and threatened to disconnect their electric service unless they made an immediate payment.
- The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) warned that an imposter pretending to be an IUB employee is calling Iowans and threatening to disconnect their utility service within 30 minutes unless the potential victim immediately pays the fake bill over the phone.
The three scams have different approaches to get victims to pay money. MidAmerican Energy said the scams share common points: a threat to disconnect service, a demand for immediate action, and payment by phone generally through a prepaid money card.
MidAmerican Energy Vice President of Customer Operations Mike Gehringer said customers should report anytime they receive a suspicious call or text that threatens to shut off service, recommending they remember the word TIP, which stands for threat, immediacy, and payment.
“Each of these scams threatens to cut off your service, demands you act immediately, and pressures you to pay over the phone,” Gehringer added.
MidAmerican Energy has offered the following advice to its customers:
- MidAmerican initially reaches out to customers with past-due balances by mail, not first by phone. They said they always give their customers plenty of notice about payment issues.
- They already have account information for their existing customers. They may ask a customer to verify certain information, but not to provide it. Imposters will ask for personal information or other financial information.
- They don’t demand immediate payment over the phone through one payment option only. An imposter demands immediate payment over the phone, generally through a prepaid money card, like a Green Dot card, or through a wire transfer. MidAmerican has numerous payment options and does not require a prepaid money card. The company never asks for or accepts payment through retail gift cards, like iTunes or Amazon gift cards.
- They say don’t trust your caller ID display, as scammers can block it or change it. This is called spoofing, and it can show any number or source. MidAmerican says if the caller seems suspicious or threatening, hang up. They also stated to not call the number on the display, as it is most likely fake.
MidAmerican says that customers can verify the status of their account or payment history by calling the number on your bill which is 888-427-5632 or check their website by clicking here. Customers can also click on the My Account link on their website to securely check their account online.
MidAmerican Energy customers who have received a utility imposter scam can report it directly to MidAmerican by phone or by filling out their online scam form, MidAmerican’s state attorney general’s office, or through the Federal Trade Commission.