AG warns of telephone scam targeting power customers
Posted November 24, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper on Monday warned residents about a telephone scam in which a caller threatens to disconnect power unless a payment is made immediately.
The scammers target customers of Duke Energy and other utilities, often manipulating caller ID to make it appear legitimate.
Cooper said the scams increase during colder weather. So far this year, 42 consumers and small business owners have reported receiving scam calls to the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division. They’ve lost a combined total of $7,500.
“Scammers continue to make calls threatening consumers and small businesses to pay up or lose power, and we’re concerned that the cold weather will give their threats extra force,” he said in a statement.
A representative from Duke Energy said the utility is aware of the scam and is working with law enforcement and industry partners to combat the problem.
During the call, consumers are told to make the payment using a reloadable debit card such as a Green Dot MoneyPak card. Victims purchase the card, load it with funds and then call the phony utility employee back to provide the card number needed to access the money.
Those who have become victims of the scam this year include a Durham restaurant that lost $700, a Raleigh shop that lost $500, a Clayton deli and grocery that lost $813, a Charlotte spa that lost $495, and a restaurant in Oriental that lost more than $2,500.
Duke Energy said company representatives will not ask delinquent customers to pay with a prepaid debit card. Customers can make payments online, by phone, by automatic bank draft or in person.
Anyone who gets a suspected scam call should hang up and report it to the Attorney General’s Office at 1-877-566-7226 (1-877-NO-SCAM) or online.
Duke Energy customers can also report the calls to Duke Energy Progress at 1-800-452-2777 or Duke Energy Carolinas at 1-800-777-9898.