Duke Energy urged its customers in North Carolina and South Carolina to be alert for a new bill payment scam. Some have lost as much as $900 to the scammers responsible.
Under the scam, a customer receives an unsolicited phone call from a fraudulent individual who falsely claims to be a Duke Energy representative.
Since mid-November, more than 35 Duke Energy small-business and residential customers in the Carolinas have reported that they've been victims of this latest scam.
The fraudulent individual falsely warns that Duke Energy will disconnect the customer's electric service if the customer fails to make an immediate payment – usually within one hour.
The fraudulent individual instructs the customer to purchase a prepaid debit card — widely available at retail stores — then call the fraudulent individual back to supposedly make a payment to Duke Energy.
The fraudulent individual asks the customer for the prepaid debit card's receipt number and PIN number, giving the fraudulent individual instant access to the card's funds and the ability to immediately drain its balance.
In reality, Duke Energy never asks or requires customers who have delinquent accounts to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid electric service disconnection. Customers can make payments online, by phone, by automatic bank draft, by mail or in person.
Duke Energy customers who have delinquent accounts receive multiple notifications from the company over the course of several weeks prior to electric service disconnection — never just a single notification one hour before disconnection.