CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WLOS) — With the fourth annual Utility Scam Awareness Week kicking off this week, Duke Energy announced they are expanding a campaign to protect nearly 8 million customers from utility-impostor scammers.
Duke reported customers have lost nearly $2 million since 2015 to scams.
Additionally, they said from January through September 2019, more than 10,000 Duke Energy customers reported receiving a scam attempt. Of these, 552 customers, or about 5.5% paid the scammers, totaling nearly $316,000 in losses.
Duke warned customers and gave examples of some scams. They said phone scammers posing as utility providers call and insist customers are delinquent on their bills. The scammer typically claims a disconnection is pending, rigs caller ID to make it look like the call is from a utility provider, and demands the money in the form of a prepaid debit card.
Some common scam tactics include:
Duke urged customers who suspect they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers to do the following:
Jared Lawrence, Duke Energy’s vice president of customer operations for Piedmont Natural Gas and Metering Services and Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) founder and executive committee chair, warned about the dangers of scammers:
Scammers’ techniques are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, making it harder for utility customers to differentiate between scams and legitimate messages. This is why we raise awareness and take action throughout the year, and especially during National Utility Scam Awareness Week. Our data show that deception rates have decreased since we began tracking in 2015, but we won’t be content until none of our customers lose money to scammers. We’ll continue work on their behalf and provide information on how to stay safe.
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.
You can also follow along on social media:
Twitter: @DukeEnergy or @U_U_A_S
Facebook: @Duke Energy or @UtilitiesUnited.