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Don't get fooled by energy scams. Here's how to protect your business.

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

Energy scams, or schemes that specifically target energy consumers, account for a large portion of those losses and range from strange to sophisticated. For example, in 2012, customers across the country received communications claiming that President Obama would personally pay their energy bills in exchange for their social security number. 

Other energy scams are more deceptive and serious. This week, business customers in the Winston-Salem area were contacted by callers pretending to be energy provider representatives and demanding cash payment for overdue bills. Recently, customers in Alberta, Canada were contacted by individuals falsely claiming to represent Direct Energy Business and demanding immediate payment to avoid a disconnection of service.

These recent incidents are just a few examples of energy scams. Fortunately, this type of fraudulent activity can be easily avoided by taking a few basic precautions to protect your business:

1. Know your utility and energy supplier 

By maintaining active 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 — never over the phone.

2. Safeguard your personal information 

If an unverified caller demands that you provide cash or credit or debit card information — or 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 ever feel uncomfortable or pressured to provide personal or payment information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number listed on your billing invoice. This will ensure that you are speaking with a real, trusted customer representative.

If you’re a Direct Energy Business customer and receive a call, email, text, or visit from someone suspicious posing as a utility or Direct Energy Business representative, please contact Direct Energy Business.

Posted: May 22, 2018