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Duquesne Light is warning of a scam after several customers reported that they received calls from someone claiming their service would be turned off if a payment was not made immediately.
The customers also said they were told to use prepaid cards to pay for the charges.
Spokesman Brian Knavish said the company has received 18 reports in one week, making it one of the bigger scams in recent years.
Peter’s Pub in Oakland fell victim in March for about $1,000. The bar was targeted again on Thursday, but knew to contact Duquesne Light this time around.
“What angers me is maybe some people can't afford it, taking some poor soul out who can't afford to do it. I just found out they called my son who's an instructor at a gym, he's a professional trainer,” said owner Peter Laventis.
Some customers also reported people claiming to be utility workers “from the power company” trying to enter their homes. Duquesne Light said people pretending to be utility workers often work in pairs, with one of them distracting customers while the other takes valuables.
"We want the community to be aware that, unfortunately, scam artists are out there, and they may be targeting Duquesne Light customers," Jane Cuff, director of customer contact, said in a statement. "We urge our customers to take suitable precautions to protect themselves from becoming a victim of these scams."
Tips for avoiding phone scams:
- Duquesne Light does not call customers on the day of a scheduled termination for non-payment.
- Duquesne Light does not ask customers to purchase any type of prepaid cards.
- Never provide credit card or other payment information if you’re unsure if the caller is legitimate.
- Customers unsure if any caller claiming to be from Duquesne Light is legitimate may call 1-888-393-7100 to verify.
- Customers suspecting they may have been targeted by scam artists should contact Duquesne Light and their local police.
Avoiding Door-to-Door Scams:
- The vast majority of Duquesne Light's work is external. In those rare instances when an employee may need to enter a customer's home, it would be scheduled in advance.
- Duquesne Light employees wear company ID badges and generally drive vehicles marked with a company logo. Always ask to see the company ID of individuals claiming to be from Duquesne Light.
- Customers who are unsure if someone is actually a Duquesne Light employee should ask the individual to wait outside, then call Duquesne Light at 1-888-393-7100 to verify.
- Customers may inform the individual that it is an inconvenient time, and that they will call Duquesne Light to reschedule the appointment.
- Customers suspecting a scam should not allow the individual to enter their homes. Instead, they should notify Duquesne Light by calling 1-888-393-7100and call their local police.