Duke Energy officials said the company will never ask customers to make payments by purchasing a gift card or debit card.

PINELLAS COUNTY, FL — Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives are encouraging the public to be on alert to a recent phone scam involving callers posing as Duke Energy employees.

Detectives say five residents have been contacted since Tuesday posing as Duke Energy employees. The scammers have programmed their calls to read as Duke Energy on the victims’ caller IDs, making the scam much more believable.

The caller tells the residents they are past due on their electric bills and need to pay immediately to avoid having their electricity turned off. Residents are told to purchase a gift card or a re-loadable debit card from a retail store. The caller provides a callback number and explains how the victim needs to call back and provide the card numbers to satisfy the past due payment.

Detectives remind residents to never make payments over the phone when they have not confirmed the call is legitimate. Instead, they should call the number on their billing statement to confirm if their payment is past due.

Duke Energy officials added that the company does not notify residents of delinquent bills over the phone and will never ask customers to make payments by purchasing a gift card or debit card.

Anyone who has been a victim of the scam should call the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Unit at 727-582-6200.

SOURCE: patch.com