As part of National Consumer Protection Week this week, Duke Energy is reiterating its warning to customers about the tricks scammers use to steal money, and how customers can protect themselves from falling victim to utility scams. The most prominent scam still used today is the phone scam. This scam typically involves a customer receiving an unsolicited phone call from an individual who falsely claims to be a Duke Energy representative (or other utility provider). The scammer warns that Duke Energy will disconnect the customer’s electric service if the customer fails to make a payment – usually within a short time frame.
Scammers have even duplicated the Duke Energy upfront Interactive Voice Response system, so when customers call back phone numbers provided by the scammer, it sounds like a legitimate Duke Energy phone number. Some of these criminals also use caller ID spoofing to replicate Duke Energy’s customer service number. Here are some red flags to look out for when dealing with a potential scammer. If the thief becomes angry and tells the customer his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected if a large payment isn’t made – usually in less than an hour. The thief instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card – widely available at retail stores – then call him or her back to provide the card information to supposedly make a payment to Duke Energy. Some scammers may request a money wire or money order. The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds. You can protect yourself from all of this by keeping these tips in mind. Duke Energy will never ask or require a customer with a delinquent account to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.