Utility Scam Awareness Day on November 16th highlights how customers can avoid becoming victims of scams
As scam tactics evolve, customers should remain vigilant
Simple tips can help you protect your money and personal information
CHARLOTTE, NC – It could be a call or a text. “This is Duke Energy and we are on track to disconnect your service unless you pay us now.” The nature of the communication or message may vary, but the intention is always the same – customers for their money or to cheat their personal information.
If you receive a similar call or text, do not participate as Duke Energy never calls or texts customers requesting immediate payment to avoid interruptions. Customers can check their balance on Duke Energy’s website, through our mobile app, or by calling customer service.
As technology has evolved to help customers pay their bills, so have scam tactics aimed at exploiting them and cheating them out of their money and personal information. That’s why Duke Energy is working with utilities across North America to raise awareness of fraudulent activity during the seventh annual Utility Fraud Awareness Day on November 16th.
The campaign focuses on scammer calls from utility companies and the advanced tactics used to target customers. The day also forms part of the week-long International Scam Awareness Week, an advocacy and awareness campaign aimed at educating customers and exposing the tactics used by scammers.
The annually recognized Utility Scam Awareness Day was created by Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), a consortium of more than 150 electric, water and natural gas companies and their respective trade associations.
“Scammer tactics are becoming more sophisticated, but utility scammers are often as simple as a scammer posing as a customer’s local utility, calling and threatening to stop service if they don’t pay,” said Monica Martinez, executive director of UUAS. “Customers should not be afraid to end a call if they suspect it is a scam. You can end the call at any time and dial the number on your utility bill or utility website for confirmation.”
Stop the scam
In recent years, particularly during the pandemic, Duke Energy and other UUAS affiliates have stepped up efforts to take advantage of utility customers and the financial challenges many have faced.
So far in 2022, more than 150,000 fraud attempts have been reported. This number is a significant increase from 2021, when nearly 17,000 scam attempts were reported. Contributing to this increase is a combination of an increase in fraud activity, increased reporting from fraudulent customers, and improved monitoring. Luckily, less than 1% of people who reported a scam fell for it — a huge drop from the 9% victimization rate when the company first began tracking data in 2015.
“While we’re proud of the progress we’ve made, our goal is to further reduce the number of our customers who fall victim to these scams,” said Tiffany Dennison, vice president of Revenue Services and Metering at Duke Energy. “As scammers become more sophisticated, we are increasingly committed to containing the problem by educating our customers, working with the telecom and technology industry to stop access to phone lines and fraudulent online ads, and advocating for stricter ones.” Implement policies to protect customers.”
Know what to look for
- Threat of disconnection: Scammers often threaten immediate service disruption. They ask for personal information or request payment to avoid service interruptions.
- Request for immediate payment: Scammers can direct customers to make payments through prepaid cards, digital payment apps, cryptocurrencies, or direct transactions with banking institutions. Duke Energy does not accept payments through the Cash App, Venmo, or Cell Apps. (Customers can make payments directly through Duke Energy’s website, duke-energy.com, or the mobile app.)
- Promise of a refund or discount: Scammers prey on tight budgets. They notify customers of upcoming refunds due to overpaid utility bills; However, you will need banking information to process the refund. You can also claim that immediate bill payment results in a discount or that a charitable donation can be made in exchange for a smaller bill payment.
- Personal information: Scammers promise to send overpayment refund checks to a customer’s account if they can verify their personal information, including birthdays and, in some cases, social security numbers.
Duke Energy always offers a variety of ways to pay a bill, including online payments, phone payments, automated bank checks, mail, or in person. Duke Energy will never:
- Specify how customers should make an invoice payment.
- Threaten immediate service disruption. Customers with overdue accounts will receive multiple advance notices, usually in the mail and on their regular monthly statement.
- Ask for personal information or credit or debit card numbers by phone, email, or in person—either for a payment or a refund.
If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, close the door, or delete the email or text. You should also contact the utility immediately using the number on the last monthly bill or the official website of the utility, not the phone number provided by the scammer. If customers ever feel they are in physical danger, they should call 911.
Visit duke-energy.com/StopScams for more information.
Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, NC, is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 8.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky and have a combined power capacity of 50,000 megawatts. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 28,000 people.
Duke Energy is conducting an aggressive clean energy transition to achieve its goals of net-zero methane emissions from its natural gas business by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions from power generation by 2050. The company has indicative carbon emissions targets of at least 50% reduction from power generation by 2030, 50% for Scope 2 and certain upstream and downstream Scope 3 emissions by 2035, and 80% from power generation by 2040. In addition, the company is investing in major power grid improvements and energy storage, and examines zero-emission power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear power.
Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2022 World’s Most Admired Companies list and Forbes’ World’s Best Employers list. Visit duke-energy.com for more information. The Duke Energy News Center contains press releases, data sheets, photos and videos. Duke Energy’s illuminations feature stories about people, innovation, community issues and environmental issues. Keep following Duke Energy TwitterLinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
Contact: Keith Richardson