Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas warn of utility scams
CHARLOTTE – Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont and Western North Carolina are joining forces to educate customers about utility scam imposters and their techniques.
From January through September 2019, more than 6,000 Duke Energy customers in North Carolina reported scam attempts, which resulted in nearly $150,000 stolen by scammers. Piedmont reports significantly fewer attempts, but advises customers to stay vigilant and report anything out of the ordinary.
Tips from Duke Energy
Phone scammers posing as utility providers call and insist customers are delinquent on their bills. The scammer typically claims a disconnection is pending, rigs caller ID to
make it look like the call is from a utility provider, and demands the money in the form of a prepaid debit card. Common scam tactics include:
• A caller ID display with the customer’s utility’s name;
• A mimicked interactive voice response menu that customers typically hear when they call their utility;
• Threats to disconnect power, water or natural gas service to a customer’s home or business within an hour;
• Immediate payment demands by prepaid debit card;
Customers who suspect they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers should:
• Hang up the phone.
• Call the utility provider by using the phone number provided on the bill or on the company’s official website, followed by a call to the police.
• Never purchase a prepaid debit card or gift card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. DO NOT pay over the phone if immediate payment is demanded by a prepaid card to avoid a disconnection. Legitimate utility companies do not specify how customers should make a bill payment, and they always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
Visit duke-energy.com/stopscams or utilitiesunited.org for more information and tips about how customers can protect themselves from impostor utility scams, or follow along on social media: Twitter @DukeEnergy or @U_U_A_S and Facebook @Duke Energy or @UtilitiesUnited.
Tips from Piedmont Natural Gas
Fall is typically a busy time for Piedmont’s technicians, who are a common sight in neighborhoods as they perform routine maintenance, conduct safety inspections and respond to service requests. Unfortunately, customers in past years have been victimized by scammers posing as utility workers.
Piedmont’s awareness campaign, which also includes information in customers’ bills and on its website at piedmontng.com, helps customers distinguish scammers from actual utility workers.
Here are four easy things customers can keep in mind to help them identify a Piedmont Natural Gas service technician:
• Service technicians always wear the company’s blue uniform with the Piedmont logo when making a service call.
• A worker making a service call will arrive in a Piedmont Natural Gas vehicle with the company’s name and logo clearly displayed.
• All Piedmont workers are required to carry their company ID badge, which has the Piedmont Natural Gas logo at the top, along with a photo of the employee and the employee’s first and last names.
• Technicians will never ask for cash or any other form of payment from customers during a service call to their home or business.
Customers who have any doubts about the identity of an individual claiming to be a Piedmont employee can call Piedmont Natural Gas at 800-752-7504 to find out if the company is working in their area and if there is a work order for their address. Customers can also visit the company’s website at piedmontng.com for additional information.