Investigators

Duke Energy: Fake viral post about armed robbers posing as utility workers is good warning

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - A social media report about armed robberies by fake utility workers is going viral. Although the post isn't true, officials said it's a good warning to homeowners. 

The post has been shared over 17,000 times. It says men are going to houses saying they are from Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas and are doing upgrades. 

"Do not let them in they are robbing people at gun point," the post read.

Duke Energy said it hasn't heard of any robberies. 

“We can’t verify the specific incidents,” said spokeswoman Meredith Archie. She said the utility first became aware of the post several days ago when it popped up in the Winston-Salem area.

Concerned about posts, Duke Energy began checking with police in that part of the state. Archie said local law enforcement said there were no reported incidents of fake utility personnel committing armed robberies in homes

Now the post is making the rounds on Wake County social media sites.

CBS 17 checked with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office. It also can’t verify any of the reports of people being robbed at gunpoint.

Scammers posing as utility workers is an old trick around the country. Archie said Duke Energy has been targeted in the past.

“We have heard of situations where scammers go to people’s homes dressed as Duke (Energy) employees,” she said.

The utility said it has numbers people can call to verify the legitimacy of people claiming to be their employees.

  • Duke Energy Carolinas: 1-800-777-9898
  • Duke Energy Florida: 1-800-700-8744
  • Duke Energy Indiana: 1-800-521-2232
  • Duke Energy Ohio, Kentucky: 1-800-544-6900
  • Duke Energy Progress: 1-800-452-2777
  • Piedmont Natural Gas: 1-800-752-7504

It also offers consumers tips that detail ways to spot utility imposters.

“If you ever wonder if someone is an imposter, feel free to call police,” said Archie.

Despite the fact the post is unverified, Archie said it’s a good cautionary tale for homeowners. She said before any Duke employee or contractor comes to a home to do work, the homeowner will know about it.

“If you haven’t received prior notification or don’t have a scheduled appointment with Duke Energy, that should be a red flag,” she said.

If someone comes to the door saying they’re from Duke Energy, the first thing a homeowner needs to ask for is an ID badge. They have a holographic image embedded in the photo.

“Any employee will have them and carry them in person out in the field when they are working,” she said.

Another red flag is a utility worker coming to your door to coerce you into giving them money.

If someone comes to the door claiming they’re with a utility, don’t fall for scam claims like:

  • Threats of an immediate service shutoff
  • Demands of an immediate cash or credit card payment to rectify a billing error 

Real utilities don’t work that way. They never send anyone to a home to deal with billing issues.

The best advice is to never let someone claiming to be a utility employee into a home until their identity is verified. There’s nothing so pressing they can’t wait for a homeowner to check their credentials.


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