Utility scams and how to avoid them

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Now that temperatures are rising, scammers have come up with a new way to get your money.

That’s right, they threaten your A.C.

The owner of the Lighthouse Restaurant in Pacolet, Leland McKelvey, was one of the scam victims.

He got a call from a scammer who said “I’ve got a crew on the way. They’re in Glen Springs now which is about 2-3 miles from me to disconnect your power.”

McKelvey says he got the call at about 5:30 Friday night and panicked because he had a building full of customers at the time.

“Ill tell you, it got me in my car and got me scooting to get my credit card, it did,” McKelvey said.

McKelvey said he uses auto-pay so he’s never passed due. But the scammers have come up with some new tactics.

They told him that he had failed to pay a security deposit reassessment.

We talked with Duke Energy, who says it does reassess deposits, but only if you’re habitually delinquent, and in that case, as well as if your bill’s overdue, you’ll get several written notices over a period of many months.

The scammers apparently knew that, because they told McKelvey that a notice had been sent.

They even did their research on McKelvey’s location.

“First they said you have to go to a Duke power outlet and pay this bill. And I said, sir there’s not a Duke power outlet in Spartanburg anymore. They said, yeah we know that, we’re looking through your records now, so you’ll have to go to the Rite Aid to do this.”

The scammers then told McKelvey to buy 2 re-loadable cards worth about $1,000, and gave him a 30-minute deadline.

We talked with Ryan Mosier, with Duke Energy, who said “If they are aggressive or threatening in any way, that’s your number one red flag. If they want you to pay a large amount of money in a short period of time, that’s number two.”

“The time factor is what almost got me,” McKelvey said.

Luckily, McKelvey called Duke Energy before sending the money and escaped a big bite out of his wallet.

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