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DES MOINES -- MidAmerican Energy customers have reported an increase in threatening calls from callers posing as MidAmerican employees demanding immediate payment for past-due bills.

Callers threaten to shut off the customer's power unless he or she pays immediately by phone with a prepaid debit card. Callers make the call appear legitimate by manipulating caller ID to display the MidAmerican name and a phone number.

MidAmerican said that it does not call customers demanding immediate payment by phone. The company accepts many forms of payment, but does not demand a specific payment method by phone.

"We provide several notifications to customers who are behind on payments," Mike Gehringer, vice president of customer operations, said in a news release. "Utility disconnection is a last resort, not a first step in the process."

Customers who receive a suspicious call should hang up and notify MidAmerican by calling the number on their monthly utility bill or at 888-427-5632. Do not call the number that appears on caller ID display, even if it appears to be legitimate. Suspicious calls also can be reported to law enforcement.

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