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.
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.