CHAPEL HILL – You might have received an email recently from Duke Energy warning about scammers targeting the company’s customers.

Spokeswoman Kristina Hill says this scam has been targeting not only Duke Energy customers, but utility companies across the country for the last several months.

“What we saw with Duke Energy is that the targets really weren’t slowing down,” Hill says.

Occasionally, the company may call customers to discuss their account, Hill explained. If it is a legitimate Duke Energy call, a representative will provide information that only the customer and Duke Energy would know.

Hill says there are several red flags that customers should guard against.

“If you get an unsolicited phone call from an individual who falsely claims to be with Duke Energy, and they threaten immediate service disconnection within one hour, that’s one red flag,” Hill says.

Hill says Duke Energy customers who have delinquent accounts receive multiple notifications from the company over the course of several weeks prior to power service disconnection. She says it is never just a single notification one hour before disconnection.

In some cases, the scammer can manipulate the customer’s caller identification and display Duke Energy’s name or phone number as the party calling. They will then ask customers to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid service disconnection. Hill says Duke Energy will never ask customers to settle an account balance through a prepaid debit card.

In response to the increase in scamming incidents, Hills says Duke Energy stepped up its campaign in August to educate customers about the issue through radio ads, messages on statements, and email alerts.

If you do receive a call which you believe is from a scammer, you should hang up  and call local police, then Duke Energy to report the call and check your account balance at 1-800-777-9898.

For more information on how to recognize a scam, click here.