Utility Rip-off Consciousness Day (Nov. 18) focuses on educating prospects in opposition to fraud.
Because the pandemic continues, extra rip-off makes an attempt more and more fail, however realizing what to search for is essential.
Easy suggestions may also help guard your cash, private data.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The telephone rings. It’s Duke Power. We’re on the way in which to disconnect your electrical service until you pay us over the telephone proper now. You observe the directions and – similar to that – you’ve been scammed.
Sadly, this isn’t an unusual telephone name. That’s why Duke Power has once more joined forces with utilities throughout the continent to convey consciousness to those legal rip-off techniques on the fifth annual Utility Rip-off Consciousness Day on Nov. 18. Utility Rip-off Consciousness Day is a part of the week-long Worldwide Rip-off Consciousness Week, an advocacy and consciousness marketing campaign targeted on educating prospects and exposing the techniques utilized by scammers.
“Because the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it’s completely crucial to remind all utility prospects to watch out for impostors making an attempt to rip-off them,” mentioned Jared Lawrence, Duke Power’s vice chairman of income providers and metering. “We’ve made nice progress as an trade in getting the phrase out the previous few years, and the numbers proceed to enhance. However so do the scammers, and that’s why we should proceed to maintain our prospects knowledgeable and conscious in order that they don’t grow to be the subsequent victims. Collectively, we will cease scams.”
Acknowledged yearly, Utility Rip-off Consciousness Day was created by Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), a consortium of almost 150 U.S. and Canadian electrical, water, and pure fuel firms and their respective commerce associations.
Scamming via the pandemic
Duke Power – a founding member of UUAS – and the consortium’s different member firms have seen a rise in rip-off makes an attempt showing to reap the benefits of the uncertainty of the pandemic. Along with the frequent impostor rip-off, some new techniques embrace bogus COVID-19 references to steal private data. Though impostors proceed to focus on utility prospects, UUAS members and companions have succeeded in taking almost 9,400 rip-off phone numbers out of operation.
“On the peak of the pandemic, scammers preyed on Duke Power prospects with an alarming frequency,” Lawrence mentioned. “The excellent news? Most individuals didn’t fall for it.”
When the UUAS marketing campaign began in 2016, greater than 9 p.c of Duke Power prospects who reported scams misplaced cash, and up to now this yr lower than three p.c have reported falling for scams. That’s nonetheless almost $400,000 of hard-earned cash misplaced to scammers in lower than a yr, and the explanation why extra work must be performed to get the phrase out.
“Clients must be on excessive alert as we proceed to see impostor utility scams rise throughout North America,” mentioned UUAS Government Director Monica Martinez. “Scammers demand cash or private data on the spot – normally with threatening language – and point out that service will probably be disconnected instantly. Anybody and everybody, from senior households to small enterprise homeowners, is susceptible to being focused.”
UUAS advises prospects who suspect that they’ve been victims of fraud or who really feel threatened throughout contact with a scammer to contact their native utility or regulation enforcement authorities. Listed here are tricks to defend your self from falling sufferer to utility scams:
Know what to search for
Widespread rip-off techniques embrace:
- Risk to disconnect: Scammers could aggressively inform a buyer their utility invoice is late, and repair will probably be disconnected—normally inside an hour—if a fee will not be made.
- Request for quick fee: Scammers may instruct a buyer to buy a pay as you go card, cryptocurrency, or to ship funds by way of a cell app to make a invoice fee.
- Request for pay as you go card or fee via sure cell apps: Clients are instructed to pay with a pay as you go debit card. The impostor asks for the pay as you go card’s quantity, which grants on the spot entry to the cardboard’s funds. Extra not too long ago, prospects have additionally been instructed to ship a fee via a cell app. Duke Power presently doesn’t settle for funds via the Money App, Venmo or Zelle apps. Nevertheless, prospects could make funds on Duke Power’s cell app out there within the Apple App Retailer for iOS and the Google Play Retailer for Android.
- Private data: Through the COVID-19 disaster, criminals are promising to mail refund checks for overpayments on their accounts if they’ll verify their private information, together with birthdays and, in some circumstances, Social Safety numbers. Duke Power will apply refunds as a credit score to prospects’ accounts and won’t contact prospects to confirm private data by telephone, electronic mail or in individual with a view to mail a test.
Shield your self
- Clients ought to by no means buy a pay as you go card to keep away from service interruption. Utility firms don’t specify how prospects ought to make a invoice fee and all the time provide a wide range of methods to pay a invoice, together with on-line funds, telephone funds, automated financial institution drafts, mail, or in individual.
- If somebody threatens quick service interruption, prospects must be conscious. Clients with late accounts obtain a number of superior notices, usually by mail and of their common month-to-month invoice. Utilities won’t ever notify of a disconnection in a single hour or much less.
- If prospects suspect somebody is making an attempt to rip-off them, they need to hold up, delete the e-mail, or shut the door. The utility must be contacted instantly on the quantity on the latest month-to-month invoice or on the utility’s official web site, not the telephone quantity the scammer supplies. If prospects ever really feel that they’re in bodily hazard, they need to name 9-1-1.
Go to Duke Power’s model journalism website, illumination, to study extra about Lawrence’s involvement in founding Utilities United Towards Scams and to obtain a name from a buyer who reported being scammed.
Duke Power (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 firm headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is among the largest vitality holding firms within the U.S. It employs 29,000 individuals and has an electrical producing capability of 51,000 megawatts via its regulated utilities and a pair of,300 megawatts via its nonregulated Duke Power Renewables unit.
Duke Power is remodeling its prospects’ expertise, modernizing the vitality grid, producing cleaner vitality and increasing pure fuel infrastructure to create a better vitality future for the individuals and communities it serves. The Electrical Utilities and Infrastructure unit’s regulated utilities serve 7.eight million retail electrical prospects in six states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Fuel Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes pure fuel to 1.6 million prospects in 5 states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Power Renewables unit operates wind and photo voltaic era amenities throughout the U.S., in addition to vitality storage and microgrid tasks.
Duke Power was named to Fortune’s 2020 “World’s Most Admired Firms” listing and Forbes’ “America’s Greatest Employers” listing. Extra details about the corporate is offered at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center incorporates information releases, truth sheets, pictures, movies and different supplies. Duke Power’s illumination options tales about individuals, improvements, neighborhood subjects and environmental points. Comply with Duke Power on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
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