Scammers are using the pandemic to try to get consumers’ information and money. Using the names of utilities are one way they are doing it.
Scams will often involve a threat to disconnect electric or gas service, a promise of a rebate in bills, or wanting to verify information that is personal. Calls may ask for immediate payments. Calls may mimic automated voices like you might hear on a utility phone menu.
In fact, Duke Energy said it has logged a record 4,000 complaints from people about this issue last month.
With the moratorium on paying utility bills changing in some states, this scam could change.
Dominion Energy said these are some signs of potential scam activity:
- Aggressive threats to disconnect service (usually within an hour or less)
- Insistence on immediate payment over the phone
- Request for a pre-paid debit card or credit card to be used for payment over the phone
- You can protect yourself and your friends and family by remembering:
- Never purchase a pre-paid card to avoid shut off— we will not insist on just one type of payment. You can pay in-person, online through your account, or at a designated payment center (all payment options available are listed here).
- Verify what you’re being told about your account. Hang up and call us or you can sign into your online account to confirm whether or not a payment is due, not any other number given to you.
Keep in mind that a scam call may not always be aggressive, they may try to sweet talk you.
Never give out any personal information if someone calls you.
Duke Energy advises – don’t stay on the phone. Hang up. Call your utility with the number on your bill. Report the issue.
Learn about recent scams and how to recognize the warning signs on the Federal Trade Commission website – www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts.