Imposters who claim they represent utilities and state regulators target potential victims through three separate phone and text message scams
DES MOINES, Iowa – (June 10, 2020) – Iowans, including MidAmerican Energy Company customers, are reporting three separate imposter scams that threaten to disconnect potential victims’ electric service unless they pay immediately by phone with a prepaid money card.
In each case, scammers pretend to represent a utility company or the Iowa Utilities Board:
- On Monday, two Iowans reported receiving a text message with a MidAmerican Energy logo instructing them to call the number on their screen immediately regarding a “cancelation of your electricity” service. The toll-free number displayed on the text, which has since been disconnected, is not a legitimate MidAmerican number.
- Over the past week several MidAmerican customers reported that a robocall or live caller contacted them and threatened to disconnect their electric service unless they made an immediate payment.
- Late last week the Iowa Utilities Board 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 pays immediately over the phone.
While these three scams take different approaches, they all have three things in common: a threat to disconnect service, a demand for immediate action, and payment by phone generally through a prepaid money card.
“Anytime you receive a suspicious call or text from someone threatening to shut off your service, remember the word TIP, which stands for threat, immediacy and payment,” Mike Gehringer, MidAmerican Energy vice president of customer operations, said. “Each of these scams threatens to cut off your service, demands you to act immediately and pressures you to pay over the phone.”
MidAmerican Energy offers this advice to our customers:
- MidAmerican initially reaches out to customers with past-due balances by mail – not first by phone. We always give customers plenty of notice about payment issues.
- We already have account information for our existing customers. We may ask a customer to verify certain information, but not to provide it. Imposters ask for personal or other financial information and may try to trick you into providing it. Don’t give it out to a caller you don’t know.
- We 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, such as 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, such as iTunes or Amazon gift cards.
- Don’t trust your caller ID display, as scammers can block it or change it – called spoofing – to show any number or source. If the caller seems suspicious or threatening, hang up. Don’t call the number on the display, as it is likely fake. If you would like to verify the status of your account or payment history, call MidAmerican using the number on your bill and our website at www.MidAmericanEnergy.com, which is 888-427-5632. Or click the My Account link on our website and securely check your account online.
MidAmerican Energy customers who receive a utility imposter scam call can report it directly to us by phone or our online scam form, their state attorney general’s office or the Federal Trade Commission.
MidAmerican Energy Company, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, serves more than 791,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota, and 771,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available at MidAmericanEnergy.com and company social media channels.