ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - Duke Energy Florida has seen an increase in utility payment scams in Pinellas County. The latest targets appear to be primarily small businesses.
Several business owners have reported receiving unsolicited calls from someone who falsely claims to be a Duke Energy representative. The thief tells the customer his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected if a large payment isnt made usually within less than an hour.
A similar scam was reported by customers this past fall in both the Tampa Bay and Orlando areas.
In all the recent instances, the scammers request the same type of payment:
- 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 supposedly make a payment to Duke Energy.
- The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds. Some of these criminals also use caller ID spoofing to replicate Duke Energy’s customer service number.
Duke Energy never asks or requires either business or residential customers who have delinquent accounts to purchase a prepaid card to avoid electric service disconnection. Customers have multiple payment options: online, phone, automatic bank draft, mail, or in person.
In addition, Duke Energy customers with delinquent accounts receive written notifications from the company prior to electric service disconnection never just a single notification by phone one hour before disconnection.
Any customer who experiences these types of calls should report the activity first to local authorities, and then to Duke Energy Florida at 800-700-8744.
Duke Energy Florida
Duke Energy Florida owns coal-fired and natural gas generation providing about 9,000 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.7 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.
With its Florida regional headquarters located in St. Petersburg, Fla., Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States with approximately $121 billion in total assets. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.3 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest. Its commercial power and international energy business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com.