Electric utility Central Lincoln People’s Utility District has received reports from customers who have been called and told they were at imminent risk of being disconnected for non-payment, with callers demanding immediate payment via a debit or credit card.
“Any time a Central Lincoln customer receives a call like this, he or she should immediately hang up on the caller,” said General Manager Debra Smith. “We do not call or email customers who are late paying their bills. It’s that simple. All notification for overdue bills is done by U.S. Mail. Further, disconnections for non-payment are made only on business days and during business hours. We want to give customers every opportunity to pay their bills to prevent disconnection, so we do not shut off customers’ power at night or on weekends.”
When a Central Lincoln customer is 21 days late in paying a Central Lincoln bill, he or she is mailed an overdue notice. Five business days later, a disconnect notice is sent, and seven days after that notice, a customer with an overdue bill may be disconnected. “But again, I want to make it very clear that disconnections for non-payment are done only on business days during business hours,” said Smith. “I’m hoping to prevent our customers from being ripped off by scam artists.”
The latest scam apparently focused on commercial customers, such as restaurants, over the past holiday weekend. Restaurant owners called by scammers were very worried they would be shut down during a busy weekend during the traditionally slow winter season. “We strive to be approachable, respectful, and responsive to our customers,” emphasized Smith. “We never call customers about late bills.”