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3 Simple Ways To Protect Your Business From Energy Scams

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The Financial Fraud Research Center estimates that a staggering $40 to $50 billion are lost to fraud each year in the United States alone.

Energy scams — or fraudulent schemes that specifically target energy consumers — make up a portion of those losses and range from silly to sophisticated. In 2012, for example, customers nationwide received communications claiming that President Barack Obama would personally pay their energy bills if they provided their social security number.

Other energy scams are more deceptive and serious. In May, customers in the Pittsburgh area received phone calls from fraudsters acting as utility representatives and demanding payment for an overdue bill. Most recently customers in Alberta, Canada are being contacted by individuals claiming to represent Direct Energy Business, and requiring immediate payment over the phone with a prepaid debit card to avoid a disconnection of service.

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The incidents in Pittsburgh and Alberta are just two recent examples of the most common type of energy scam. However, this fraudulent activity can be avoided by taking a few basic precautions:

  1. Know your utility and energy supplier. By maintaining proactive relationships with your utility and energy supplier, you will have a better understanding of your energy use and billing cycle. Only your local utility can disconnect service and all disconnection notices are done in writing with a specific date and deadline — not over the phone. 
  2. Protect your personal information. If an unverified caller demands your credit or debit card information — or asks for payment with a prepaid debit card — this is a red flag. Direct Energy Business will never require payment with prepaid debit cards. 
  3. Hang up the phone. If you feel pressured to provide personal or payment information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your billing invoice. This will ensure you are speaking with a real, trusted representative.

If you’re a Direct Energy Business customer and receive a call, email, text, or visit from someone asking for payment via prepaid debit card, please contact Direct Energy Business Customer Care at 1-866-867-8167.

For more information on how to protect your business from the various forms of energy fraud, check out this recent article.

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Posted: July 16, 2015