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Tampa Bay area utilities sounding the alarm after a spike in imposter calls

Teco and Duke Energy report summer surge of complaints
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Posted at 1:40 PM, Aug 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 17:23:16-04

TAMPA — Teco and Duke Energy say they’re alerting customers to a summer spike in a long-running imposter scam. Con artists target customers and attempt to convince them they are behind on their power bills. In George Mitcheson’s case, the caller threatened to cut off gas in 30 minutes if he didn’t pay up.

Mitcheson who lives in Pinellas County says the caller had just enough information to sound believable.

“It sounds real, it sounds like an office background.”

TECO told ABC Action News they’ve seen increased reports from customers this summer. So far this year TECO users have lost $24,000 to scammers. And Duke Energy reports 930 complaints in July alone and more than $14,000 in customer losses for the month.

In Mitcheson’s case, they checked and confirmed their bill had been paid before giving any money to the caller.

In an alert put out in July TECO reminded its customers:

• Tampa Electric never calls to ask for credit card or debit card numbers.

• Tampa Electric does not accept payments through mobile payment apps.

• Know the status of your account.

So, what do you do if you get one of these calls? Immediately hang up and report the call to your utility using the number on your last bill. https://www.duke-energy.com/Home, https://www.tecoenergy.com/

You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov.