Duke Energy Calling? Maybe Not…

It happens every day – your phone rings and a voice starts asking you questions. But wait, this is your utility company contacting you, asking for your account number and other personal details…or is it? BBB and the Ohio Attorney General’s  Office are warning consumers to beware of phone scams involving utilities. In a recently reported scam, a caller — pretending to represent a utility company — said the consumer’s electrical power would be shut off unless the consumer sent hundreds of dollars using a prepaid money card. In reality, the call was not coming from the consumer’s utility company.

Consumers also are reporting unsolicited phone calls from individuals claiming they can lower consumers’ natural gas rates. The Ohio Attorney General’s and BBB warn consumers to be skeptical of such calls and to ask for written information before making any decision. Here are some other helpful tips from the Ohio Attorney General’s:

  • Don’t trust your caller ID. Callers can disguise the number that appears on your caller ID, making it very difficult to determine where a call is coming from.

  • Don’t respond to robocalls. Even if the call instructs you to press a button to opt out, don’t follow the instructions. By pressing a button you confirm that you have an active phone number and you may receive even more calls.

  • Ask callers to identify themselves and provide written information. If they refuse, it is probably not a legitimate business.

  • Know your rights. Natural gas and electric companies generally must give you a 14-day notice before disconnecting your service. Contact the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to learn more and to compare electric or natural gas offers in your region.

  • When in doubt, hang up. If a caller claims to represent your utility company but makes threats or demands immediate payment, hang up and call your utility company using a number you know to be legitimate, such as a number on your most recent statement.

  • Beware of requests for prepaid money cards. This is a preferred payment method for scammers.

  • Don’t give out personal information over the phone.

 

Consumers who suspect a scam or an unfair business practice should visit the Ohio Attorney General’s  website or call them at 800-282-0515. And remember to check out the business with BBB.

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About Christine Hayley

I started with BBB|Cincinnati in 1997 as a Co-Op. Today I am the Dispute Resolution Director.