Did someone call and threaten you about your smart meter? Don’t fall for it

CHARLOTTE — Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke is always warning people about scammers pretending to be with Duke Energy. Typically, they say you’re behind on bills, pay now, or lose power right away.

During the pandemic, Duke Energy made the decision to not shut off anyone’s power -- even if they didn’t pay. But Stoogenke found out that the scammers are using a new storyline to try to trick customers out of their money.

The story involves your smart meter. The scammers say they’re putting in a new one and that you have to pay right now or they’ll shut off your power.

“So, the scammers, they’re smart. They tried a new tactic. They said, ‘OK, we’re not going to press you about your overdue bill. We’re going to try to get you to pay a deposit for a new smart meter,’” Duke Energy’s Bill Norton told Stoogenke. “We had one scammer here in North Carolina who took nearly $20,000 in a single scam off one customer. That’s what we’re here to stop.”

Moira Quinn is the operations manager at Center City Partners and told Action 9 one of the scammers called her.

“And he said that if I didn’t wire him immediately $1,400 within the next 30 minutes, he was going to shut off all electricity to Charlotte Center City Partners, to our suite. Boom,” she told Stoogenke.

As the operations manager for the booster organization, Quinn has the power to make decisions about money, and she believes the scammer must have researched that.

“I was furious. I was furious for a lot of reasons. I was furious that they tried to target us. I was furious that he was trying to play on emotions,” she said. “Even though I knew that this was not right, I felt, I did have a moment of panic of saying, ‘Oh my gosh, somebody’s going to cut off our electricity.’”

Quinn did what you should do in the same situation: hang up and tell Duke Energy.

“I felt that he was going to get somebody else. I knew he was going to get somebody else,” she said.

Norton said that in the first 10 months of this year, customers in all six of the states Duke Energy operates in lost more than $350,000 to scams (not just the new smart meter one). He said customers in the Carolinas lost $160,000 and that customers in North Carolina alone lost nearly $120,000.

And those are just the ones who reported it.

Remember:

  • Your utility, Duke or otherwise, won’t threaten you over the phone.
  • It won’t tell you to pay in a matter of minutes.
  • It certainly won’t tell you to wire money or use a prepaid debit card.
  • Don’t trust the number on your Caller ID. Scammers spoof those numbers to look like your utility.

(WATCH BELOW: Clemson fans say man stole thousands of dollars from them in ticket scam)