Duke Energy has a legitimate program that hooks its power customers up with trusted affiliate contractors who do work such as heating and air unit repair and installation, plumbing, insulation services and more.
But now some scammers are calling Duke Energy customers and asking homeowners to set up a time for a free inspection of their homes’ heating and air units.
For those who do set an appointment, the service person who arrives may convince the homeowner he or she needs expensive repairs to a perfectly good unit.
It can be an effective scam because many Duke Energy customers do know that the company has a legitimate affiliates program, and those above-board partners could conceivably market their services over the phone.
Based on the accents of callers, the scammers calling to set up the appointments may be calling from a phone bank in India or another foreign country. The numbers used by the scammers show up as local 336 numbers – however, the numbers are being “spoofed.”
In one case, when a curious Duke Energy customer who received the phone call dialed the number back immediately, he found the number was no longer in service. In another case, a call to the originating number rang a local household where a man who picked up said he knew nothing about it and added that he didn’t make the call. He said it was “creepy” to know that his number was being used to make scam phone calls.
The scammers begin the call by saying “We are a Duke Energy affiliate” and then asks the homeowner about the age of the heating and cooling unit for the residence. Then they say a serviceman will be in your area and will offer you a free check of your unit.
When a customer asked how they would know they are with Duke Energy, in one case the caller said, “We are not Duke Energy. We are an affiliate.” When asked what company the caller is actually representing, the caller provided the name of a company that does not show up on any google search and then added that the customer would know the technician was legitimate because “he will show you his company identification card.”
When the caller was asked if that was a local company, the frustrated scammer said, “The technician will answer all your questions – sir, what time would be good for an inspection appointment?”
The callers are generally very high pressure with the pitch and will not get off the phone until the homeowner hangs up.
A customer service agent for Duke Energy said that the company’s affiliates may market their services in several ways. However, if the originating number is not in service, or connects to a random individual, then those would certainly be huge red flags.