Utility bill fraud offering to pay bill claims local victims

Utility bill fraud offering to pay bill claims local victims

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by AMY COWMAN / NewsChannel 36 Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @amywcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on June 29, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 29 at 6:24 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A nationwide fraud is claiming local victims. It promises to pay your utility bill once you log into your account and enter a Federal Reserve Bank Routing Number.
One Charlotte woman, who prefers to not use her name, says she was a little skeptical when her neighbor came over and told her she could get her Duke Energy bill paid for free, but when they said it worked for them, she was excited about the savings as well.
 
"When we did it, it went through fine.  It gave me a confirmation number and said your bill has been posted, everything was fine," the woman said.  "She told me, ‘Hey, Obama is paying everybody's electric bill’, and I was saying ‘Really?’”
 
But everything wasn't fine. She later found out it was a con. All she had to do was call Duke Energy and confirm her personal information to log into her account, then enter a Federal Reserve Bank Routing Number.
 
The next day she found out this was a national fraud that hit several companies.  Locally, Duke Energy says about 400 of their customers fell victim, while Piedmont Natural Gas says they know of only 30 to 40 customers impacted.
 
"It's an identity theft, pure and simple," said David Trusty with Piedmont Natural Gas.
 
And they say they took action right away.
 
"We've taken some steps.  We were alerted by one of our customers.  It had happened and so we took steps to keep it from happening any further," added Trusty.
 
Duke Energy said they've also flagged the routing number if a customer tries to use it now, but companies say folks should know that you should never give personal information to get something free in return. It was certainly a lesson learned for victims.
 
"Now I have to run around and close bank accounts.  I have to call credit bureaus.  I have to do everything.  It’s a nightmare, it's a total nightmare," the woman added.
 
For more information on the issue, you can log onto www.piedmontng.com or contact the Better Business Bureau.

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