Posted: 5:14 p.m. Monday, March 31, 2014

Officials warn about Duke Energy scam

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By Ed Richter

Staff Writer

After a long, bitterly cold winter, scammers may contact area residents pretending they are with Duke Energy or some other utility company.

Spokeswoman Sally Thelen said Duke Energy has fraud alert information on its website, www.duke-energy.com/indiana/billing/fraudalert.asp, to let customers and businesses know of possible scams operating in the area.

“It’s an unfortunate issue,” she said.

Thelen said Duke may contact customers by phone to discuss their accounts. However, the representative will provide the customer with information that they and Duke would know to validate the legitimacy of the call. If a customer is uncomfortable in providing information by phone, or thinks it could be a scammer, they should call local police and Duke Energy. Duke Energy customers should call 800-521-2232.

Other fraud prevention tips include not accepting offers from people claiming to be from Duke to pay your bill or provide any other service for a fee; except for convenience fees for automated phone payments or through an authorized pay agent, Duke doesn’t charge any extra fees for mail payments or online banking services; and Duke does not demand a payment one hour before disconnecting service and does not ask or require a customer to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.

After a long, bitterly cold winter, scammers may contact area residents pretending they are with Duke Energy or some other utility company.

Spokeswoman Sally Thelen said Duke Energy has fraud alert information on its website, www.duke-energy.com/indiana/billing/fraudalert.asp, to let customers and businesses know of possible scams operating in the area.

“It’s an unfortunate issue,” she said.

Thelen said Duke may contact customers by phone to discuss their accounts. However, the representative will provide the customer with information that they and Duke would know to validate the legitimacy of the call. If a customer is uncomfortable in providing information by phone, or thinks it could be a scammer, they should call local police and Duke Energy. Duke Energy customers should call 800-521-2232.

Other fraud prevention tips include not accepting offers from people claiming to be from Duke to pay your bill or provide any other service for a fee; except for convenience fees for automated phone payments or through an authorized pay agent, Duke doesn’t charge any extra fees for mail payments or online banking services; and Duke does not demand a payment one hour before disconnecting service and does not ask or require a customer to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.

Some concerns about Lithium 9-volt batteries

According to Consumer Reports magazine, Lithium 9-volt batteries aren’t recommended for smoke detectors unless you follow a strict battery replacement schedule.

The magazine recently reported those batteries maintain a high voltage until the end of their usable life, so they provide a much shorter “low battery” warning to alert you that it’s time to swap in a fresh one.

Lithium batteries tend to wear out sooner and don’t allow the low battery chirping sound to go very long, said Hamilton Fire Marshal Tom Angst. He said regular Alkaline 9-volt batteries begin to chirp as the battery gradually wanes off and emits the chirping sound for a longer period of time than a lithium battery.

Have a consumer concern, issue or complaint? Contact Ed Richter at 513-755-5067 or at Ed.Richter@coxinc.com.

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