News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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March 25, 2014

Bill scam: Duke Energy warns consumers to beware of fakes trying to collect

TERRE HAUTE — Scams concerning utility bills have caused Duke Energy to issue a fraud alert for area customers.

District manager Rick Burger told the Tribune-Star that scams were reported Friday and Saturday, with one commercial customer and some residential customers targeted.

“We don’t collect money on site. We just don’t,” Burger said of collecting cash to pay electric bills or to stop disconnection of service.

The recent scam involves someone calling claiming to be from Duke Energy, with a fake local Caller ID number showing that the call is from Duke Energy.  The caller will tell the customer that a service vehicle will arrive within the hour to shut off electric service. The customer is asked to have cash ready to avoid disconnection of service.

“It really puts the scare into citizens,” Burger said.  

But he cautioned that customers should always ask to see a Duke Energy employee badge when first speaking to anyone coming to their door. He also encourages customers to call Duke Energy at 800-521-2232 any time there is a question about their utility bill.

“The Terre Haute Police Department has been really helpful in trying to track these folks down,” Burger said of the scammers.

Anyone who thinks they have been the victim of a scam should call police to report the incident.

Because of reports of fraudulent activity, Duke Energy has formed this list of fraud prevention tips to protect customers. The following tips are available on the company website at www.Duke-Energy.com.

n If Duke Energy calls a customer  to discuss an account, the caller will provide information that only the customer and Duke Energy would know in order to validate that the call is legitimate. After receiving the information, if the customer is uncomfortable providing personal information by phone, or believes the call is a scam, hang up and call the company directly at 1-800-521-2232.

n Do not accept offers from anyone, including those claiming to be Duke Energy employees, to pay a bill or provide any other service for a fee.

n Duke Energy charges convenience fees for payments only through its automated phone system, one-time payments made through its website and at select authorized pay agents. The company does not charge extra fees for paying bills by mail or through customers’ online banking services.

n Duke Energy customers who have delinquent accounts receive multiple notifications from the company over the course of several weeks before electric service disconnection – never just a single notification one hour before disconnection.

n 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.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

 

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