Scammers Targeting MidAmerican Energy Customers

DES MOINES, Iowa – (December 22, 2017) – Several MidAmerican Energy customers are being targeted over the phone today by scammers, who are posing as utility employees and threatening to shut off power unless the customer makes a payment over the phone with a prepaid debit card. Customers receiving these calls should hang up the phone immediately.

In these most recent calls, scammers have targeted commercial customers as the holiday shopping season winds up. Nonetheless, scammers can target anyone at any time of year, so all customers should be on the lookout. Scammers are persistent and aggressive. They use sophisticated methods to trick customers, which can 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 a prepaid (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 the status of their account. Customers can check their balance online using My Account at www.midamericanenergy.com or by calling MidAmerican Energy at 888-427-5632.

Protecting customers from scams is a top priority for MidAmerican Energy. If customers are behind on bills, they will receive several notifications; disconnection is a last resort, not a first step in the process. MidAmerican Energy accepts 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.
  • Beware of any caller who asks you to pay with a prepaid (Green Dot) debit card. MidAmerican Energy does not accept this type of payment.
  • Ask for proper identification from anyone who approaches you claiming to be from a service provider. Call the service provider directly to verify the purpose for the visit. Use the number published on your monthly bill or the company’s website.

For more information, visit www.midamericanenergy.com/scams or watch this informative video. The Consumer Protection Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s office has also set up a hotline with more information on the scam at 515-725-5387.

About MidAmerican Energy Company
MidAmerican Energy Company is an energy provider serving 760,000 electric customers and 742,000 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 www.midamericanenergy.com.

Reports of “Grandparent” Phone Scam in Oskaloosa

Following a series of recent complaints and reports of criminals targeting older Iowans by telephone and stealing thousands of dollars, the Oskaloosa Police Department would like to warn residents about an apparent resurgence of the so-called “grandparent scam.”

The Police Department has received several reports of callers targeting older residents by claiming to be a grandchild (a niece, nephew or other relative) with an emergency need for cash. The callers try to convince their victims to immediately wire a large amount of money to help pay a sudden personal crisis, such as a car accident, medical emergency or even bail money. These scams surprise their victims and convey a sense of a relative facing an immediate need, so victims don’t have time to check out the story. They prey on older victims who would do anything to help their loved one.

Common scenarios include:

  • A grandparent receives a phone call (or sometimes an email) from a grandchild. If it is a phone call, it’s often late at night or early in the morning when most people aren’t thinking that clearly. Usually the person claims to be traveling, in another state or in a foreign country, and has gotten into a bad situation, like being arrested for drugs, being mugged, in an accident or arrested, and needs money wired ASAP. And sometimes the caller doesn’t want his or her parents told.
  • Sometimes, instead of the “grandchild” making the phone call, the criminal pretends to be an arresting police officer, a lawyer, a doctor at a hospital, or some other person. And we’ve also received complaints about the phony grandchild talking first and then handing the phone over to an accomplice…to further spin the fake tale.
  • We’ve seen military families victimized; after perusing a soldier’s social networking site, someone will contact the soldier’s grandparents, sometimes claiming that a problem came up during military leave that requires money is sent to an address.
  • They want you to pay to collect your winnings. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t require you to pay insurance, taxes or shipping to claim what you’ve won. Scammers pretend to be with banks, and well-known companies like Publishers Clearing House to make you think it’s the real deal. No matter how convincing the reasons NEVER SEND MONEY TO CLAIM A PRIZE.
  • They claim to be with a government agency. They may try to get you to send money saying they’re with the IRS, US Customs, or US Marshals Service. They might even use a real employee’s name and call from a Washington DC phone number. But it’s a number they’ve faked. Contrary to scammers’ lines, NO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY supervises or runs sweepstakes.

To avoid being victimized:

  • Resist the pressure to act quickly.
  • Try to contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate.
  • NEVER wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail…especially overseas. Wiring money is like giving cash-once you send it, you can’t get it back. Don’t send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier, either. And don’t deposit a check and wire money back – the check will turn out to be a fake.

Have conversations with your older relatives about the “grandparents scam” and other telephone scams that are targeting older residents. Encourage older relatives to screen their calls, not answer the phone to unknown numbers or unknown persons. Scammers want that personal contact to play upon the immediate need. No matter how legitimate it may sound or how important it may seem to act immediately, take the time to check it out.

Register your phones and your older relatives phone numbers with the NATIONAL DO NOT CALL REGISTRY at www.donotcall.gov or their phone number is 888-382- 1222.

Oskaloosa citizens are encouraged to contact the Oskaloosa Police Department at 641-672- 2557 or the Consumer Protection Division at 888-777- 4590 if they feel they’ve been a victim of such a scam.


Stay updated, sign up for our newsletter.