COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA), Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS), and utility companies are joining forces to warn S.C. residents about potential scammers taking advantage of the dropping temperatures.
The Public Service Announcement (PSA) describes scammers posing as workers from local utility companies and demanding money from residents, sometimes threatening to turn off services, such as heat, if the payment is not made immediately.
The scammers find creative ways to appear official.
According to the PSA, some scammers will dress in the official uniform of a utility company and go door to door.
Some technologically savvy scammers are even able to spoof local phone numbers, making it seem like you are receiving a call directly from your utility company.
The PSA included some red flags that consumers should look out for:
- Asking for payment in prepaid debit or gift card. No real utility company will ever ask a consumer to pay with anything other than direct forms of payment like a bank account or credit card. If someone claiming to be a utility says you must pay in prepaid debit or gift cards, it’s a scam.
- Use scare tactics or threaten you into paying ASAP. Often a scammer will warn the consumer they are late with payment and if they don’t pay immediately, their services will be shut off. Utilities are required to provide consumers with at least 10 days written notice before their service is shut off and a second notice a few days prior.
- Cold-call and ask for you to verify personal information. A cold-call is when you receive an unsolicited visit or telephone call made by someone trying to obtain payment or information for a service. If you receive a cold-call from anyone asking to verify private info like your account numbers/balances, Social Security number, date of birth, etc, hang up and directly call your utility company.
The PSA advises individuals who think they may be a victim of a scam to call their utility company’s customer service line and verify any recent activity.
The official contact information for local utility companies is provided below:
- Dominion Energy South Carolina: (800) 251-7234
- Duke Energy Carolinas: (800) 777-9898
- Duke Energy Progress: (800) 452-2777
- Santee Cooper: (843) 347-3399 in Horry or Georgetown Counties (843) 761-8000 in Berkeley County
- Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina: Visit www.ecsc.org/co-op/info to find the direct number of your co-op.