The Carolinas heat wave is being accompanied by telephone and social media messages that the Obama administration has a new program to pay people’s utility bills.
It’s a scam, Duke Energy officials say.
“And it usually preys on the people least able to afford it,” says Tina Worley, a spokeswoman for Duke Energy.
According to reports in recent days, consumers have been contacted through social media, text messages and phone calls. They are told that a new federal program from President Obama’s administration will pay the power and other utility bills.
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In return, consumers are told they must supply scammers with their Social Security and bank account numbers. The scammers then supply consumers with a fake bank account number which they supposedly can use to pay their utility bills.
That leaves the power bill unpaid -- and the scammers in possession of consumers’ Social Security and bank account numbers.
Duke Energy officials offer these tips:
-- Never give anyone your Social Security number, credit card number, or banking information unless you initiated the conversation and you feel comfortable about whom you are speaking with.
-- If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with a utility company and asking for payment, hang up, and call the customer service number on the utility bill.
-- Don’t surrender to high-pressure tactics over the phone for financial information.