BRADENTON – The Better Business Bureau of West Florida is warning consumers in Florida about a bill payment scam that is targeting utility customers, as well as another involving MoneyPak transfers. The West Florida BBB offered the following tips on how cosumers could protect themselves from being defrauded by scammers.
Individuals and businesses have reported receiving telephone calls that claim their electricity will be turned off within hours unless they make an immediate payment by a prepaid debit card, such as the Green Dot Money Card available at retailers nationwide.
“This scam is targeting electric customers today. Tomorrow, scammers could target cable customers or natural gas customers," said Karen Nalven, President of BBB Serving West Florida.
“That’s why it is important to increase awareness about payment scams in general so that customers understand the red flags and know what to do,” added Nalven.
The BBB has advice for utility customers:
“Since November, we’ve received reports from about 80 customers who have been contacted by these scam artists. Many of the victims are small business owners,” said Tom Cunningham, Duke Energy payments manager.
Duke Energy offers customers a number of payment options, including online, by phone, by automatic bank draft, by mail or in person.
According to Cunningham, Duke Energy never contacts customers to demand a prepaid debit card payment to avoid an immediate service disconnection.
“We urge all of our customers to hang up and contact us directly if they receive such a scam call,” added Cunningham.
Contact numbers in FL include:
Duke Energy Florida Customers – 800-700-8744
Progress Energy Florida Customers – 800-700-8744
The BBB alsow warned consumers to beware of scammers using the Green Dot MoneyPak prepaid cards you can purchase at local stores. Using a prepaid card is a convenient way to pay bills online without threat of risk to your bank account. But scammers have found a way to get that money from you too! Green Dot spokesman states, “Fraudsters will call or email you saying that you won a lottery or can buy discount merchandise at their phony websites – but you need to pay fees to get your prize or purchase that merchandise via MoneyPak –and only MoneyPak, then they ask for the 14-digit code.” Once you have given them that code – the crooks can then transfer your MoneyPak funds to their own prepaid cards.
MoneyPak offers these 7 tips to help protect you from fraud!
To avoid falling for MoneyPak scams, consumers should:
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