“Put the freeze on fraud,” was a Santee Cooper Tweet recently. Same message from Duke Energy. In fact, utilities across the Carolinas and nation this week are educating consumers to watch out for people claiming to be from a utility when all scammers want is customer money.
It happens. “More than 37,500 Duke Energy customers have reported scam attempts since the company began tracking reports in June 2015. A small fraction of those customers – about 6 to 7 percent – fell victim to the scams, losing a total of nearly $2 million.” (Source)
Take a few minutes to learn the warning signs of a scam, which can include, says Dominion Energy:
- “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.
- 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.”
Duke Energy developed an interactive quiz to highlight common scam techniques and safety tips. Visit duke-energy.com/stopscams or utilitiesunited.org for more information and tips about how customers can protect themselves from impostor utility scams.
It’s not just scams by phone or at the front door. Mountain Electric said this in the summer, “Please do not open any emails from email@example.com. This is a SCAM and we are working as quickly as possible to correct this problem.”
Utilities in the Carolinas are working hard, united in trying to stop scams. Customers have to be aware when someone suspect approaches to stay safe, too.