The Nebraska Public Power District urges electricity customers to be wary of scammers trying to take advantage of the winter weather and power outages.

These predatory individuals will call and tell residents that their electric bill must be paid immediately, or the power will be shut off. They will recommend several methods of payment.

They may also indicate that immediate payment will keep the victim from being included in rotating outages.

NPPD will not ask for card payment over the phone.

Even so, the call can be deceiving. Sometimes the scammer’s caller-identification is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as ‘spoofing.’

“Scammers have gotten very crafty in recent years and will often strike during severe events. Scammers can be very convincing and will do their best to get someone worried, or confused enough, they make a mistake and give away their money,” NPPD Retail General Manager Pat Hanrahan said. “This past week has been difficult for many people, and it’s important to remember these scammers are always looking for an opportunity to take advantage of someone.”

One NPPD customer reported Feb. 18 that a scammer called them posing as Publisher’s Clearing House and said because they paid their electric bill every month, they were entered into a drawing and won a large chunk of money.

The scammer asked for the customer’s banking information so they could deliver the money, but the customer refused and reported the call.

To help customers be wary of such scams, NPPD offers the following information:

• NPPD, as a business practice, does not call to ask customers for a credit card number.

• NPPD does not demand payment with a pre-paid card.

• Any customer receiving such a call should not attempt to make payment over the phone using a credit or debit card.

• Write down the call back number or consider asking where the caller is located.

• Contact law enforcement.

• Let NPPD’s Centralized Customer Care Center at 1-877-ASK-NPPD (877-275-6773) know about the call.

• If served electrically by a rural public power district or municipality, customers should contact that organization before providing any type of payment. For more information concerning scam calls, view https://www.nppd.com/accounts-billing/scams.