Duke Energy joins utilities across the continent to protect customers
from scams &61607; Utility Scam Awareness Day (Nov. 18) focuses on educating customers
&61607; As the pandemic continues, more scam attempts increasingly fail, but
knowing what to look for is key
&61607; Simple tips can help guard your money and personal information
CHARLOTTE, N.C. The phone rings. Its Duke Energy. Were on the way to
disconnect your electric service unless you pay us over the phone right now. You follow
the instructions and just like that youve been scammed.
Sadly, this is not an uncommon phone call. Thats why Duke Energy has again joined
forces with utilities across the continent to bring awareness to these criminal scam
tactics on the fifth annual Utility Scam Awareness Day on Nov. 18. Utility Scam
Awareness Day is part of the week-long International Scam Awareness Week, an
advocacy and awareness campaign focused on educating customers and exposing the
tactics used by scammers.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, its absolutely critical to remind all utility
customers to beware of impostors attempting to scam them, said Jared Lawrence,
Duke Energys vice president of revenue services and metering. Weve made great
progress as an industry in getting the word out the past few years, and the numbers
continue to improve. But so do the scammers, and thats why we must continue to keep
our customers informed and aware so they dont become the next victims. Together, we
can stop scams.
Recognized annually, Utility Scam Awareness Day was created by Utilities United
Against Scams (UUAS), a consortium of nearly 150 U.S. and Canadian electric, water,
and natural gas companies and their respective trade associations.
Scamming through the pandemic
Duke Energy a founding member of UUAS and the consortiums other member
companies have seen an increase in scam attempts appearing to take advantage of the
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uncertainty of the pandemic. In addition to the frequent impostor scam, some new
tactics include bogus COVID-19 references to steal personal information. Although
impostors continue to target utility customers, UUAS members and partners have
succeeded in taking nearly 9,400 scam telephone numbers out of operation.
At the height of the pandemic, scammers preyed on Duke Energy customers with an
alarming frequency, Lawrence said. The good news? Most people didnt fall for it.
When the UUAS campaign started in 2016, more than 9 percent of Duke Energy
customers who reported scams lost money, and so far this year less than 3 percent
have reported falling for scams. Thats still nearly $400,000 of hard-earned money lost
to scammers in less than a year, and the reason why more work needs to be done to
get the word out.
In 2020, 1,828 Duke Energy customers in Indiana have reported a scam attempt.
Unfortunately, 36 of those customers have paid a total of $18,486 to the scammers so
far this year.
Customers need to be on high alert as we continue to see impostor utility scams rise
across North America, said UUAS Executive Director Monica Martinez. Scammers
demand money or personal information on the spot usually with threatening language
and indicate that service will be disconnected immediately. Anyone and everyone,
from senior households to small business owners, is at risk of being targeted.
UUAS advises customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel
threatened during contact with a scammer to contact their local utility or law
enforcement authorities. Here are tips to protect yourself from falling victim to utility
Know what to look for
Common scam tactics include: &61607; Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell a customer their utility bill
is past due, and service will be disconnectedusually within an hourif a
payment is not made. &61607; Request for immediate payment: Scammers might instruct a customer to
purchase a prepaid card, cryptocurrency, or to send funds via a mobile app to
make a bill payment. &61607; Request for prepaid card or payment through certain mobile apps: Customers
are instructed to pay with a prepaid debit card. The impostor asks for the prepaid
cards number, which grants instant access to the cards funds. More recently,
customers have also been instructed to send a payment through a mobile app.
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Duke Energy currently does not accept payments through the Cash App, Venmo
or Zelle apps. However, customers can make payments on Duke Energys
mobile app available in the Apple App Store for iOS and the Google Play Store
for Android. &61607; Personal information: During the COVID-19 crisis, criminals are promising to mail
refund checks for overpayments on their accounts if they can confirm their
personal data, including birthdays and, in some cases, Social Security numbers.
Duke Energy will apply refunds as a credit to customers accounts and will not
contact customers to verify personal information by phone, email or in person in
order to mail a check.
Protect yourself &61607; Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service interruption.
Utility companies do not specify how customers should make a bill payment and
always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill, including online payments, phone
payments, automatic bank drafts, mail, or in person. &61607; If someone threatens immediate service interruption, customers should be
aware. Customers with past due accounts receive multiple advanced notices,
typically by mail and in their regular monthly bill. Utilities will never notify of a
disconnection in one hour or less. &61607; If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up,
delete the email, or shut the door. The utility should be contacted immediately at
the number on the most recent monthly bill or on the utilitys official website, not
the phone number the scammer provides. If customers ever feel that they are in
physical danger, they should call 9-1-1.
Visit Duke Energys brand journalism site, illumination, to learn more about Lawrences
involvement in founding Utilities United Against Scams and to download a call from a
customer who reported being scammed.
Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.,
is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 29,000 people
and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated
utilities and 2,300 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.
Duke Energy is transforming its customers experience, modernizing the energy grid,
generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter
energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and
Infrastructure units regulated utilities serve 7.8 million retail electric customers in six
states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas
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Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to 1.6 million customers in five
states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke
Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S.,
as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.
Duke Energy was named to Fortunes 2020 Worlds Most Admired Companies list and
Forbes Americas Best Employers list. More information about the company is
available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases,
fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energys illumination features
stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues.
Duke Energy joins utilities across the continent to protect customers
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