Each year, Nebraskans are subject to a variety of consumer scams. Everyone, regardless of age, sex, nationality, education level or financial status is a target for a consumer scam. Seniors may be targeted more because they are perceived by scam artists to have more free time or may be more trusting. It is important to know the signs of a scam so that you do not fall victim.
Recognize the signs
The Nebraska Attorney General’s office offers these tips:
- Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Be direct. Don’t be afraid to hang up the phone or shut the door on unwanted solicitations.
- Never pay money up front to collect a prize.
- Be aware that wiring money is just like sending cash. Once you send it, it is gone for good.
- Review financial statements regularly.
- Don’t carry your social security card, birth certificate or passport in your purse or wallet, except when necessary.
- Ask a neighbor, family member, friend, banker or trusted advisor if you have doubts about an offer or business.
- Call law enforcement immediately if you think you have been victimized.
- Never accept the help of someone who calls you and offers to help recover the losses in a scam “for a small fee.” Odds are it is the same scam artist coming back for more.
- Order a credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus through www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Scammers may also target seniors for identity theft. To help ward off identity theft, be sure to protect your personal information by shredding the following:
- Credit cards and other offers of credit,
- Credit card statements,
- Mailing labels from magazines,
- Copies of credit applications,
- Insurance forms,
- Bank checks and statements and expired charge cards, and
- Any other item that might have account numbers, physicians’ statements, customer numbers or membership numbers.
Utility Bill Scams
Dawson PPD’s customers have been and continue to be preyed on by utility bill scammers. The caller ID of the scammer’s phone number often looks like Dawson PPD.
Sometimes, the caller creates a sense of urgency that the customer’s bill is overdue, and that they have a short period of time to pay their bill or face disconnection. They will ask customers to pay their bill in gift cards.
Other times, the scammer says that the customer has overpaid on their electric bill and that they need the customer’s banking account information to deposit the excess funds. In either circumstance, it is important that customers understand that this is not how Dawson PPD conducts business.
Here’s what to do if the call seems suspicious:
- Hang up
- Call Dawson PPD directly at 308-324-2386
- Call law enforcement
Top 10 scams in Nebraska
According to the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, the Top 10 Consumer Complaints in 2021 were:
- Imposter scams
- Identity theft
- Auto related complaints
- Home repair, improvement and products
- Online shopping and catalog sales
- Health care
- Internet services
- Travel, vacation and timeshares
- Banks and lenders
- Telephone and mobile services
When we talk to Dawson Public Power District customers about this opportunity, something commonly asked is “why?” We usually hear that customers do not care what we do so long as we continue to provide low-cost, reliable power. When they flip the light switch, it better come on. We know this industry well and we care about all of this on your behalf. Our efforts will continue doing what we do best using a different, but diverse, and better business model.
The average Nebraska residential cost per kilowatt hour of electricity was about 10 cents in 2012. In 2020, that cost rose to just 11 cents.
Nancy Davenport is retiring after 37 years of service.