In the past few weeks dozens of homeowners have reported receiving scam telephone calls from individuals claiming to be with the IRS saying you owe money, the local sheriff’s office saying you need to pay money because you missed jury duty, and a sweepstakes scam saying you’ve won a large cash prize but first have to send in a payment to secure the winnings.
Now there is another scam.
A telephone payment scam is apparently targeting Duke Energy customers and customers of other utilities including the Town of Smithfield. Smithfield Public Information Officer Tim Kerigan said officials have heard from several customers that were contacted.
The scam starts with a phone call from someone who claims to be a representative of Duke Energy or another utility company and threatens to disconnect power if the consumer doesn’t pay immediately. The scammers often manipulate Caller ID to make it look like the call comes from the real utility company. In some cases, scammers make multiple calls threatening consumers and small businesses to pay up or lose power.
Consumers who’ve gotten the calls report that they are told to make the payment via a reloadable debit card such as a Green Dot MoneyPak card. Victims purchase the card, load it with funds and then call the phony utility employee back to provide the card number needed to access the money.
To protect yourself, remember:
- The Town of Smithfield never asks customers with delinquent accounts to pay by prepaid debit card to avoid having their service disconnected. Customers can make payments online, by phone, by automatic bank draft, by mail or in person.
- If you get one of these calls, hang up and report it to the Attorney General’s Office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or online atwww.ncdoj.gov.
- If you’re concerned there may really be a problem with your power, please contact the Town of Smithfield’s Customer Service Representatives at 919-934-2116 x1105.