SCAM INVOLVING UTILITIES
Electric utility customers (targeting businesses and individuals) in the Bemidji area and surrounding communities including both Beltrami and Hubbard Counties are targets of a scam involving fraudulent phone calls from individuals impersonating utility company employees. These individuals are purporting to be from Beltrami Electric and Ottertail Power Company. They are not representatives of either company.
The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office is warning customers to beware of calls threatening immediate electric service disconnection and directing the customer to purchase a prepaid debit card to pay their bill. When the customer calls back the "utility representative," the scammer asks for the debit card's receipt number and PIN number, allowing access to the card's funds. In some cases, the scammers ask for the customer's credit card information and numbers.
Some thieves are using caller ID spoofing, making it appear that the call originates from the customer's utility company, and the scammers have become aggressive when their legitimacy is questioned.
Reminders for electric utility customers:
• Utility companies never ask for or require a prepaid debit card for bill payments.
• Utility companies do not immediately disconnect delinquent accounts; customers receive several notices before disconnection.
• Utility companies never call a customer seeking personal information or credit card numbers.
• In the field, utility company employees carry picture identification badges and never ask a customer for money.
This same scam occurred in our area in the fall of 2014 and has been reported across the United States as well. If you receive such a call or voice mail, hang up and/or do not return their call. If they persist in calling contact the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office or Bemidji Police Department at 218-333-9111. If you live in another county please contact your local law enforcement agency.