A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Duke Energy, Utilities United Against Scams warn customers about falling victim to imposters

Duke Energy, a founding member of Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), reminds customers of the tactics scammers use to steal money from customers and to educate them on how they can guard against falling victim to utility imposter scams.

This year, the company is teaming up with the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau and the Ohio Consumers Counsel (OCC) to raise regional awareness.

UUAS, is an association providing information on scams to at-risk utility consumers.

“As a trusted consumer resource dedicated to providing scam information to the general public, BBB often hears about confusing utility scams affecting the marketplace,” said Jocile Ehrlich, president, and CEO of BBB Cincinnati. “We applaud the effort of UUAS to inform customers about utility scams and their associated risks. We want to continue to encourage people to learn more, recognize the signs, and report scam activity when it occurs; with their help, the easier it will be for agencies like Duke Energy and OCC to prevent individuals and businesses alike from becoming victims.”

UUAS’ Utility Scam Awareness Week campaign coincides with the start of the holiday season, a time when reported scam activity spikes.

“We must continue to raise awareness to help protect our customers and keep their hard-earned dollars safe,” said Amy Spiller, president, Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky. “Scammers are developing increasingly sophisticated schemes to take advantage of our customers, so we cannot emphasize enough the importance of being vigilant against their tactics.”

Duke Energy, along with other UUAS members have helped to shut down more than 2,200 Toll-Free Numbers used by scammers against utility customers. The group recently was awarded the Toll-Free Industry’s Fraud Fighter Award in recognition of its advocacy and awareness campaign to stop scams that target electric, water, and natural gas company customers.

Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact regarding their utility service or bills, should contact their utility company or local law enforcement authorities.

Customers should never purchase a prepaid debit card or gift card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. 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.

If someone tells you, either verbally or in writing, that you must pay your bill immediately to avoid disconnection, you should confirm their identity before making payment. You can do this by using the telephone number on your utility bill or your utility company’s website. Customers and small business owners are also encouraged to report these scams to BBB’s Scam Tracker.

“The Consumers’ Counsel is pleased to work with the Better Business Bureau and Duke Energy to protect Ohioans from scammers who would steal their hard-earned money,” Molly McGuire, spokesperson, OCC. Consumers can visit the website to learn more about common tactics of scammers and how to avoid their rip-offs.

Visit www.utilitiesunited.org for more information and tips about how customers can protect themselves from impostor utility scams, or follow along on social media: Twitter @U_U_A_S and Facebook @UtilitiesUnited.

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