COUNCIL BLUFFS — With the summer's heat will come higher energy bills.
But be alert if an energy-related call comes. MidAmerican Energy Co. doesn't want its customers fooled by a scam that is rippling through Iowa and Illinois.
The company said it has responded to several scams involving individuals who call customers posing as customer service associates or attorneys. The scam artist says the customer's account is past due and payment is needed immediately to avoid disconnection.
The caller then asks for the customer's credit card information or requests a wire transfer payment through Western Union. In some cases, the caller indicates he or she can help lower the customer's monthly bill amount if account information is provided.
Council Bluffs Police Sgt. Dave Dawson said he is aware of at least one such call in Council Bluffs.
MidAmerican said a number of customers are reporting that a Delaware telephone number the scam artists are using shows up on caller ID. It is not a MidAmerican phone number.
Customers are advised to end the conversation and call the company's customer service line at 888-427-5632. A representative will confirm whether the call was from MidAmerican's call center. Customer service associates also can confirm a bill payment, service work or an appointment at a customer's home or business.
Dawson said you should never provide credit card or personal information to someone over the telephone without first verifying that the caller is legitimate.
Seeking family information is part of another scam in the area. A caller will say a grandson, nephew or niece is in jail and needs money wired for bail.
The caller uses people's fears to get them to wire money before checking with other family members on the whereabouts of the individual.
“We have seen more of those lately,” Dawson said. “With something like that one, verify with other family members to see if it is a scam.”