GREENVILLE — The Better Business Bureau of the Upstate SC is warning consumers in the Upstate about a bill payment scam that is targeting utility customers.
Individuals and businesses have reported receiving telephone calls that claim their electricity will be turned off within hours unless they make an immediate payment by a prepaid debit card, such as the Green Dot Money Card available at Wal-Mart.
“This scam is targeting electric customers today. Tomorrow, scammers could target cable customers or natural gas customers,” said Vee Daniel, president of the BBB of the Upstate SC. “That’s why it is important to increase awareness about payment scams in general so that customers understand the red flags and know what to do.”
The BBB has advice for utility customers:
• Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payment for any reason.
• Never give out personal or financial information to anyone who calls or emails you.
• Never wire money or provide debit or credit card numbers to someone you do not know.
• Call the number on your utility company bill to find out if there is a problem with your account.
“Since November, we’ve received reports from about 80 customers who have been contacted by these scam artists. Many of the victims are small business owners,” said Tom Cunningham, Duke Energy payments manager.
Duke Energy offers customers a number of payment options, including online, by phone, by automatic bank draft, by mail or in person.
According to Cunningham, Duke Energy never contacts customers to demand a prepaid debit card payment to avoid an immediate service disconnection.
“We urge all of our customers to hang up and contact us directly if they receive such a scam call,” added Cunningham.
Duke Energy Carolinas customers with questions should call 800-777-9898.
For more information about scams visit www.upstatesc.bbb.org.