DETROIT - DTE Energy customers are now under pressure from scammers that are calling houses pretending to be from the utility company and threatening to shut off services in exchange for money.
Utility imposters have resurfaced and have upped their game by adding technology to their arsenal of deception tactics. With that in mind, DTE Energy is encouraging customers to be vigilant by looking out for people claiming to be utility workers.
Technology has enhanced the con artists' believability because caller ID may show the call is coming from DTE Energy. In some cases, the perpetrators provide callback numbers that answer with a recorded greeting that is like the one that's played on DTE Energy's customer service line.
In recent incidents, DTE Energy has received reports of scammers calling customers demading an immediate payment via bitcoin or else power would be shut off. In the past, scammers have also demanded payment via Green Dot debit card, Western Union wire transfer and/ or cash.
Know the Red Flags
Someone asks for your DTE account number
DTE Energy DOES NOT ask customers to provide their account numbers. Customers will be asked to validate account information such as the billing zip code, or last four digits of their Social Security number prior to discussing account details to protect their customers' private information. DTE Energy DOES NOT call for payment if the account is in good standing. If a customer is behind on payments, DTE will mail a warning notice, providing the steps to restore the account to good standing and continue service.
Alarm bell should ring when someone calls and says a crew is on the way to shut off service unless there's an immediate payment. The more aggressive the caller, the more skeptical customers should be.
Demanding a specific form of payment
DTE Energy DOES NOT demand a specific form of payment. In fact, it provides a variety of payment options, including credit cards, debit cards, bank/ACH transfers and more. If a caller insists on payments via a prepaid debit card — especially a specific brand of prepaid card — it is a scam.
On the Phone
- DO NOT trust your caller ID. Scammers are using caller ID spoofing to make the call appear to originate from DTE Energy. If you suspect the call may be fraudulent, hang up and call DTE Corporate Security at 313-235-9113. Similar scams also spoof caller ID and claim to be the IRS and othe credible sources.
- Ask for identification. Pull out your most recent DTE Energy bill and ask the caller to tell you the account number and the amount due
- If you have received a call of this nature and believe you are the victim of fraud, contact your local police immediately.
At the Door
- Ask for identification. All DTE Electric and DTE Gas employees and contractors carry photo identification badges, and are required to display their badge if asked. If you are unsure about an employee's identification, or want to verify the nature of the work to be done at your home, call DTE at 800-477-4747.
- Do not allow people into your home who:
- Claim to offer a DTE Electric or DTE Gas refund. Our employees never deliver cash refunds or rebates to customers' homes.
- Attempt to collect a bill payment. DTE DOES NOT collect or accept utility bill payments at customers' homes or businesses
DTE encourages customers to call the police if you believe the person at your door is a con artist posing as a utility worker.
On the Web
- The web is increasingly being used to commit fraud and identity theft. Scammers use e-mail, text messaging and social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Never give out personal information, including Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers over the internet to someone you do not know.
- If you suspect you have been fraudulently contacted, call us at 800-477-4747 to speak with a customer service representative who can confirm the status of your account and make appropriate arrangements for payment, if needed.
For customers in situations where their identity may be compromised, we advise all customers to call local police, take advantage of free credit reporting, watch for new accounts opened in their name and report any unusual activity to DTE immediately.
Copyright 2019 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.