Hundreds of thousands of Duke Energy customers in the Carolinas may have been exposed to a possible breach of their personal information, officials said Monday.
Duke Energy officials said a vendor that owns one of the networks the company uses to process payments at walk-in locations said last Friday that it identified a potential compromise of personal information affecting about 1.6 million customers, including 374,000 from Duke Energy.
The announcement came from PayPal, officials said, which recently acquired TIO Networks. TIO owns Global Express, which is an authorized payment processing network that Duke Energy uses at walk-in locations.
Customers at walk-in locations Tuesday told Channel 9 that they had no idea about the possible breach.
"Ain't no telling what they might do with our information," customer Arissa Norman said. "They can pass it on to their friends or family members."
Officials said the breach is a TIO issue and that Duke Energy is doing all that it can to help.
The possible data compromise affects the customers of any company that uses the Global Express network for payment processing, officials said.
Duke Energy officials said customers whose info may have been accessed will receive instructions from TIO on how to register for one year of complimentary credit monitoring.
Officials said Duke Energy's Carolinas customers who need to make a payment can do so at any Western Union location, or can pay by check, debit or credit card by calling 800-777-9898, selecting option 2 for “billing and payments,” then option 1 to make a payment.
This payment process will remain in place until a permanent solution is found for Duke Energy walk-in locations, officials said.
Duke Energy statement:
“This TIO Networks issue has possibly and unfortunately affected some of our customers, and we are doing all we can to help,” said Lesley Quick, Duke Energy’s vice president of revenue services. “We have remained in daily contact with our vendor since they abruptly and unexpectedly disabled their network on Nov. 10 for suspected “security vulnerabilities.”
This issue only affects customers who paid by check or cash at an authorized walk-in payment processing center, and not customers who paid via credit card or another form of payment. The personally identifiable information that may have been compromised includes, name, address, Duke Energy account number and balance, and banking information if a customer paid by check.
“We regret the frustration and inconvenience this issue has created for our customers who rely on our authorized walk-in locations to pay their monthly energy bills,” said Quick. “We are doing all we can on behalf of our customers to ensure they receive timely information and action from TIO Networks.”
Duke Energy Carolinas customers can continue to make payments in person at any Western Union location -- an agreement that was established shortly after TIO Networks suspended the payment system -- or can pay by check, debit or credit card online at www.duke-energy.com or by calling 800-777-9898, select option 2 for "billing and payments," then option 1 to make a payment.
Customers who believe they may be impacted or have questions should visit http://tionetworks.com/ for more information.
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