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Duke Energy warns of phone scam targeting more customers

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 2:32 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) -Duke Energy is alerting customers to a phone scam company officials say has increased in the past few days.

The scammers are demanding customers pay their electric bill immediately if they don’t want their service shut off within the hour, Duke Energy says. Scammers often target older residents or small family-owned businesses, according to Duke Energy.

The form of payments normally requested is from a prepaid debit card.

Duke Energy says they would never ask customers for that type of payment.

“Scammers have even duplicated the Duke Energy upfront Interactive Voice Response system, so when customers call back phone numbers provided by the scammer, it sounds like a legitimate Duke Energy phone number,” the company says.

The use of caller ID spoofing has even allowed scammers to replicate Duke Energy’s customer service phone number.

Red flags for scam activity:

  • The caller becomes angry and tells the customer his or her account is past due, and service will be disconnected if a large payment isn’t made – usually within the hour.
  • The caller instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card – widely available at retail stores – then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment to Duke Energy.
  • The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.
  • The customer has received no other notice from Duke Energy that an account is overdue.

How to protect yourself:

  • Duke Energy never asks or requires a customer with a delinquent account to purchase a prepaid debit card or iTunes card to avoid disconnection.
  • Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail, or in person at any number of retail outlets.
  • Customers with delinquent accounts receive advance disconnection notification with the regular monthly billing – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
  • Customers who suspect or experience fraud, or feel threatened during contact with one of these thieves, should contact local law enforcement authorities and then the Duke Energy Customer service phone number listed on their bill (800-544-6900).
  • Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.

On Tuesday, Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau’s main phone line was used to solicit false electric bill payments from Duke Energy customers, according to CVB.

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