Duke Energy Warns of Utility Scams During Pandemic
Duke Energy, one of the largest utility companies in the United States, recently released an alert warning customers to beware of new scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company distributed an email along with a blog post urging customers to remain aware of newly discovered COVID-19-related scams targeting natural gas and electric customers. Attack reports by Duke Energy showed that June 2020 was the highest single month on record for scam attempts targeting its customers, with over 4,000 scam attempts reported.
Cybercriminals notoriously utilize current events to their advantage and are constantly adjusting their tactics to lure in unsuspecting victims who may be facing financial hardship and uncertainty due to the global pandemic. Attackers are utilizing various methods to target Duke Energy customers, including phone scams and a new tactic which claims to offer customers refunded checks in exchange for their personal information.
Scam reports have demonstrated that attackers are utilizing phone scams to steal the personal information of Duke Energy customers. In this type of attack, scammers will pose as the utility provider and call customers to insist that there is some type of mistake in their bill, such as a missed or delinquent payment.
Scammers often disguise the phone number they are calling from to appear as if it is a legitimate company phone number and will typically demand an immediate payment in the form of a prepaid debit card to avoid service interruption.
Signs that you may be receiving a malicious phone scam:
- A call with pre-recorded voice, often referred to as a robocall, with a caller ID display showing the customer’s utility’s name.
- A mimicked Interactive Voice Response menu that customers typically hear when they call their utility.
- Threats to discontinue service if the customer does not pay immediately by prepaid debit card.
Note: Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas have currently suspended disconnections for nonpayment.
Refund Check Scam
Duke Energy has reported a new tactic in which scammers are promising customers the mailing of a refund check for overpayment on their account. In order to receive the “payment”, customers must confirm personal information like birthdays or social security numbers. This scam may be delivered through a pre-recorded phone call or an email, both of which are disguised to appear as if they are coming directly from Duke Energy.
Recommendations from Duke Energy to Protect Against Scams:
- “Though Duke Energy will frequently contact our customers by phone, email and text, we will never ask for personal information over the phone or demand immediate payment using money orders or gift cards.
- If you are unsure whether a call is valid, hang up and contact our customer care center.
- If someone claiming to represent Duke Energy approaches your door requesting personal or private information, always ask for identification. If you have any concerns about their legitimacy, contact our customer service team for verification.
- Duke Energy will not specify how customers should make a bill payment, and we will always offer a variety of ways to pay your bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, by mail, or in person. If the caller demands an immediate compensation by prepaid debit or credit card, DO NOT submit payment.
- Customers can learn more about recent scams and how to recognize the warning signs on our website.”
To read the full blog post from Duke Energy regarding these recent scams, visit https://news.duke-energy.com/releases/scams-targeting-utility-customers-on-the-rise-during-covid-19-pandemic-duke-energy-and-piedmont-natural-gas-warn-of-scammers-latest-tactics.
For more information about utility scams and what to do if you are targeted, visit https://www.duke-energy.com/customer-service/report-fraud-and-scams?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=safe_scam-covid_2020-jul_2020_decsc%20(1)&utm_content=&spMailingID=17576378&spUserID=MTkzMzQ2ODA3NDczS0&spJobID=1920928149&spReportId=MTkyMDkyODE0OQS2