The Metropolitan Utilities District received reports Friday of scammers contacting customers and threatening to shut off services if they do not provide a credit card number or cash.
As of Friday afternoon, the utility company had received reports from two people who had been contacted by scammers threatening to shut off their gas and water service, said Mark Doyle, a senior vice president at MUD. The scammers asked for cash and wanted to meet up with the customers in person.
Omaha restaurateur Greg Cutchall of Cutchall Management Co. said an Old Market restaurant he operates was a target of the scam. The caller threatened to shut off the restaurant’s water service by the end of the day if a credit card number was not provided.
“We’ve heard quite a few scams in our day, but this is a new one,” Cutchall said.
Jennie Warren, executive director of the Omaha Restaurant Association, said she had not heard any reports of other restaurants being targeted.
Doyle said MUD received reports of the scam Friday. “We’re getting calls that say the phone number is an 800 number, and one particular customer said that (scammers) told him he owes some money on a bill, but couldn’t give the account number or total amount due.”
Doyle advised all customers who receive similar calls to contact the utility’s customer service line at 402-554-6666, and to notify the Better Business Bureau and Omaha Police.
“Our employees will always give their name and their employee number, and they will identify themselves. They will never hold back information from a customer based on their inquiry,” he said.
He added that, generally, MUD does not contact customers by phone regarding service shut-off.
“If we were going to shut somebody off for non-payment, they would get a notice with their bill and to call customer service,” Doyle said. “The only time we would be asking for a credit card number, that would be a payment conversation that was initiated by the customer.”
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