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Consumer Advisory Bulletin (June 12, 2008)

Flood and Storm Warning:
Be Wary of Impostors Posing as Utility Workers

Statement of the Attorney Generalís Office:

The Attorney General’s Office is advising electric and gas utility customers to ask for identification from persons who come to their homes and claim to be utility workers. Customers who are approached by utility workers should look for official insignia, ask for an official I.D. badge or identification, and report any suspicious persons immediately to the utility, and to the sheriff or police and the Attorney General’s Office.

Unfortunately, scam-artists are known to try to take advantage of storm-battered, vulnerable persons in cleanup and recovery phases, and even during the emergency phase of a disaster.

Background: MidAmerican Energy security officials informed state officials that one of their customers in Waterloo reported suspicious activity on Wednesday -- two men in gray suits & white hard hats were in the Waterloo area going house to house, saying they were subcontractors with MidAmerican Energy Company, and would disconnect electric service for a fee anywhere from $50 to $100. The customer contacted MidAmerican’s Call Center (888-427-5632) and also contacted the police and reported to them. MidAmerican will not charge for disconnecting or reconnecting service.

    The Attorney General’s Office advises utility customers:

  • Beware of the possibility of impostors posing as utility workers. Utility workers will NOT ask for payment to disconnect or reconnect power in flood-related situations.

  • Look for official utility insignia on vehicles and uniforms – and insist that workers present an I.D. badge or official identification.

  • Call the utility to check the situation and report suspicious persons or activity.

  • Contact the Sheriff or police immediately to report suspicious activity. Try to get license numbers and descriptions of persons or vehicles.

  • If possible, watch for and report suspicious activity at neighbors’ properties as well.

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Other information available from the Attorney General’s Office:

More consumer tips from A.G.: Go to www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org for several more consumer bulletins related to storms and flooding (look for tornado logo.) Note: we always expect consumer scams, especially in cleanup and repair phase after disaster has receded. But TODAY’s notice re impostors posing as utility workers obviously is pertinent at the height of emergency.

Alliant Energy notice to be “Security-smart” during flooding: go to http://www.alliantenergy.com/docs/groups/public/documents/pub/p016731.hcsp
Alliant’s Customer Call Center: 1-800-ALLIANT.

For more on floods, go to www.FEMA.Gov or call 800-621-FEMA (3362) for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's booklet on "Repairing Your Flooded Home" or other information.

For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. Call 515-281-5926, or 888-777-4590 (toll-free).

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