ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - As scammers continue to target the customers of utility service providers across the country, Duke Energy Florida has seen an increased activity in the Orlando area. It appears scammers may be specifically targeting residents with traditionally Hispanic last names.
Under this long-running scam, a customer receives an unsolicited phone call from an individual who falsely claims to be a Duke Energy representative. 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 timeframe:
- The thief instructs the customer to purchase a “Green Dot MoneyPak” or other branded pre-paid debit 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 debit 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. They can also become aggressive when questioned about the legitimacy of their calls.
- In reality, Duke Energy never asks or requires customers who have delinquent accounts to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid electric service disconnection. Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person. Duke Energy customers who have delinquent accounts also receive notifications from the company prior to electric service disconnection – never just a single notification one hour before disconnection.
Green Dot has announced it is discontinuing the MoneyPak loadable debit-cards in early 2015 due, in part, to concerns over fraud. In the meantime, Duke Energy Florida warns customers to remain alert to these types of scams.
Customers who suspect or experience fraud, or feel threatened during contact with one of these thieves, should contact local authorities, then Duke Energy Florida at 800-700-8744 to report the activity.
Duke Energy Florida owns coal-fired and natural gas generation. That diverse fuel mix provides about 9,000 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.7 million customers in a 20,000-square-mile service area.
Regionally headquartered in St. Petersburg, Fla., 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: www.duke-energy.com/Florida