SOUTH CAROLINA (WSPA) – Nov. 17 is Utility Scam Awareness Day. Duke Energy and the SC Department of Consumer Affairs are raising awareness to protect customers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a record number of scam attempts, according to Duke Energy. So far in 2021, nearly 1,200 customers in South Carolina reported scam attempts.

Most scams failed, but hundreds of victims have lost nearly $41,000 in SC alone. $350,000 has been lost across the six states serviced by Duke Energy, the company said.

“Scammers have not shown compassion for small businesses and private citizens enduring the trying circumstances of the last two years. In fact, they have intensified their criminal activity with high-pressure tactics and increasing use of technology. For that reason, utilities continue to unite to combat scammers by spreading awareness, and we are working with telecom partners to remove access to phone lines and encouraging policymakers to adopt stronger public protections.”

Jared Lawrence, Duke Energy’s vice president of metering services and customer service transformation

They say cam attempts are increasing, but the good news is fewer customers are falling for it.

If you receive a call from someone claiming to be Duke Energy saying your service is being disconnected, you’re advised to hang up. Duke Energy says they never disconnect customers like this. Customers can call Duke Energy at the number on their bill or check balances online or via the Duke Energy app.

Utility Scam Awareness Day was created by Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), a consortium of more than 150 electric, water and natural gas companies and their respective trade associations.

While the techniques continually shift, the easiest way to defuse the pressure is to stop before you act. That’s why they say this year’s awareness theme is “End the Call. End the Scam.”