CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - If you’re a utility customer at Duke Energy, it could be a pricy holiday season if you’re not careful.
The company is reporting more than 25,000 customer scam attempts this year – the highest year on record.
“When it first happened, I kind of panicked,” said restaurant GM Angelo Tsepelis. He’s tired of the calls he gets from scammers pretending to be with Duke Energy.
“The scammers are very convincing and they are aggressive,” said Meghan Miles with Duke Energy.
According to Duke Energy, in Charlotte this year, there have been more than 2600 scam attempts.
Of those, 79 Duke Energy customers reported paying the scammers nearly $43,000 dollars.
The most popular scam is the one Tsepelis received - scammers threatening to disconnect power.
“They call up and they tell you they’re going to cut off the power. We have a work order to cut off your power in an hour and then they give you this 1-800 number to call and give like a credit card number out,” said Tsepelis.
Thankfully, Tsepelis didn’t fall for it.
Scammers might tell you to buy a prepaid card or send funds through an app to make a bill payment.
“These should be red flags,” said Miles. “We would never tell a customer through one single notification that they would be in danger of being disconnected.”
She says during the height of the pandemic when Duke Energy suspended disconnects for nonpayment, they saw some new tactics.
“And some of those were saying that they – our customers were owed a refund and they were calling customers asking them to verify personal information such as their birthday and social security number.”
She says typically Duke Energy would not call customers to verify any personal information.
“If a customer ever suspects they are being targeted by a scam they should hang up the phone and give us a call to verify their specific account details and not let their guard down.”
Tsepelis never did, but he’s still shocked how people could have it in their hearts to take advantage of vulnerable people in this pandemic.
“They’re trying to do stuff like this in a time that our business is not what it used to be due to COVID and they’re still trying to make money through people that are struggling right now,” said Tsepelis.
The highest scam amount that was paid in the state this year was $3,000.
If you ever think you’re being targeted by a scam, call Duke Energy at the number on your bill.