Scammers target utility customers, threaten loss of power
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Consumers are receiving calls that claim to come from their utility company, telling them that there is a problem with their account and they need to pay money immediately or risk having their power shut off.
The callers use technology to fake their phone number, so when the call comes through the real utility’s name appears on your caller ID. Often the scammer uses a prepaid phone, making the calls next to impossible to trace.
The latest version of this scam asks Duke Energy customers to purchase a prepaid credit card for a certain amount and then call back the scammers to give them the card number and PIN. Duke Energy reports that some victims have lost as much as $900 to this scam in recent months.
Con artists know that customers will respond if there is a consequence, so they often threaten to turn off power within the hour of the call if the victim doesn’t pay.
Remember, if someone calls you claiming there’s a problem with your account and requests money or personal information from you, hang up. If you have a question about your utility account, contact the company at a number or website you know to be valid, such as one listed on your monthly bill.
Report possible scams to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov