Tampa Bay, Fla. – It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Grabbing gifts, running around town, seeing family and friends. Then your cell phone rings….” Hello this is Duke energy calling, we need to verify some information about your service….” the recorded message goes on just like one from Duke energy..except one problem, it isn’t them.
Today I received a text message from my wife while she was at work. “Hey, what’s up with Duke energy?” Odd, I thought. Since her cell is not listed on the account, our account is current, no power outages. So, what does Duke energy want? Seems they left a recorded message. I say “they” because the callers responsible for the call, the recorded message that mimics Duke Energy and the concern that my wife had, was not Duke Energy at all.
As with any call that is suspicious, I asked for the simple info, starting with what number they called from. This was a Google voice or Skype generated number. Clearly not Duke Energy. I then did some thinking…..as I stated earlier, my wifes cell phone is no where on the account. Furthermore, we have no new service or existing service with any reported issue. So clearly we know it was not Duke calling, so now what.
Unfortunately, this is nothing new for Duke and other companies. Scammers have gotten smarter and started using services we all count on for every day comforts, and use them to get us to act quickly and many times without thinking. So here are a few things to keep in mind, and try to exercise when dealing with a scam call.
- If you don’t know the number DO NOT answer it.
- Do not give the caller any information about you.
- If the calls persist you should contact your local law enforcement immediately
- If they are adamant about being who they say they are, and you still have doubt, you can request to call them back at the number YOU have for your provider. DO NOT call them back at a number they provide.
- Report the call to Duke Energy
Red flags for scam activity
- The caller becomes angry and tells the customer his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected if a large payment isn’t made – usually within the hour.
- The caller instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card – widely available at retail stores – then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment to Duke Energy.
- The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.
- The customer has received no other notice from Duke Energy that an account is overdue.
Duke Energy has set up a number to call and report these cases, and they encourage it. Keeping the company and the public informed of wrong doings is one way to stay a step ahead of the scammers.