The national campaign provides content focused on identifying scam warning signs
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Gas and electric utility companies across the country and Canada are joining forces to protect customers from the long-running scam targeting customers of utility service providers.
Under this 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 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.
How to protect yourself
- Duke Energy never asks or requires a customer with a delinquent account to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
- Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
- Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification with the regular monthly billing – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
- If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, hang up and call the local police then Duke Energy. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.
Customers who suspect or experience fraud, or feel threatened during contact with one of these thieves, should contact local authorities, and then the Duke Energy phone number listed on their bill.
Enhancing ongoing efforts to educate the public
The company continues to enhance its efforts to educate the public. As part of the Utilities United Against Scams collaboration, communications are planned through the week of Nov. 14 through the website, upfront messaging at customer call centers, customer email, video, media and social media content.
Previous communications aimed to combat scammers and protect customers include bill messages and alerts, customer letters, online content, public service announcements, advertising, outbound calls and messaging on customer service telecommunication channels.
More than 90 percent of customers who received a call recently and reported it to Duke Energy said they did not fall for the scam. In the initial stages of the scam activity, it is estimated that at least 50 percent of customers contacted were tricked.
The company continues to work with law enforcement, other utilities, the media and has partnered with local attorneys general and Better Business Bureaus to denounce the scams.
Duke Energy also continues to interview victims to detect any signs or clues that could break cases.
For more information visit www.duke-energy.com/StopScams or follow Duke Energy on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to learn more.
About Duke Energy
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is an S&P 100 Stock Index company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com.
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