DES MOINES, Iowa – (Aug. 1, 2016) – Today, MidAmerican Energy Company is launching its “Slam the Scam” awareness campaign to prevent customers from falling victim to energy scams.
On average, MidAmerican Energy receives approximately 100 reported scams each month, and this year, customers have reported losing nearly $9,000 dollars to scammers.
“Our message is simple,” said Terry Ousley, vice president of customer satisfaction for MidAmerican Energy. “If you receive a questionable phone call or if someone suspicious shows up at your home or business, slam down the phone or slam the door and immediately call MidAmerican Energy to check on your account, and call local police to report the scam.”
Ousley said scammers target all customers in all regions. “They’re bold, aggressive and use sophisticated tactics,” he said. “Once people start to catch on, the scammers move to a different area and change their approach. While we can’t stop their calls, we can educate our customers to try to make their attempts unsuccessful.”
One of the most common scams works like this: A scammer calls a customer pretending to be a MidAmerican Energy representative. Often, scammers “spoof” caller ID to make the call appear as if it is coming from MidAmerican Energy when it is not. The imposter tells the customer their account is past due and threatens to immediately disconnect service if they do not make a payment.
One of the biggest red-flags is the scammer demanding payment in the form of a credit card or prepaid debit card, often referred to as a Green Dot card, and wanting it quickly – sometimes in less than an hour. MidAmerican Energy does not accept prepaid debit cards as a way to pay bills, and they do not ask for credit card information over the phone.
“That is not how we operate,” said Ousley. “If someone is behind on payments, they will receive several notifications, including a notice in the mail, before disconnection takes place. We offer many payment options. Disconnection is a last resort, not a first step.”
Some scammers are even brave enough to approach customers in person, either by ringing their door bell or showing up at their business. The scammers may arrive in what looks like a MidAmerican Energy work vehicle, and they may wear official-looking vests or uniforms to appear like an energy worker. Typically, they threaten to disconnect power or claim that the customer needs a new energy meter in exchange for payment, or they pretend to be an energy auditor and offer to perform a home assessment. MidAmerican Energy does offer a free home assessment called HomeCheck®. These assessments are scheduled by the customer. Our energy experts do not show up unannounced.
MidAmerican Energy’s Slam the Scam campaign will use a variety of articles and videos as well as customer outreach and social media efforts to educate customers on scams and prevent them from being taken advantage of by scammers. A video and campaign information can be found on the Slam the Scam webpage
If customers receive a call that sounds like a scam, or if someone suspicious shows up at their business or residence, they should Slam the Scam by hanging up or shutting the door and calling MidAmerican Energy at 888-427-5632 and their local police.
Customers should follow these tips to protect themselves:
• Hang up if the caller insists on immediate payment using a prepaid debit card or Green Dot card.
• Ask to see identification from anyone who shows up at your door. MidAmerican Energy employees carry an employee ID badge at all times.
• Don’t trust the name and number on your caller ID. Use the number published on MidAmerican Energy’s website or in the phone book: 888-427-5632.
Help us spread the word; educate your family, friends and neighbors on what to do if they are faced with a scammer.About MidAmerican Energy Company
MidAmerican Energy Company is an energy provider serving 752,000 electric customers and 733,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. It is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available on the company’s website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, which can be accessed via MidAmerican Energy Company's website