GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – DTE Energy, Michigan’s largest energy company, is urging customers to beware of scammers posing as their electric or natural gas supplier. DTE has seen an increase in scam artists targeting customers, claiming to be a representative from the company and asking for sensitive information or immediate payment.

In conjunction with Utilities United Against Scams’ Utility Scam Awareness Week across North America on Nov. 17-23, DTE wants to share the red flags of a utility imposter, whether it be in-person, on the phone, or online.

In recent incidents, scammers pretending to be from DTE have called customers demanding that if they didn’t receive immediate payment power would be shut off. These scammers typically demand payment via Bitcoin, Green Dot debit card, Western Union wire transfer, various gift cards or cash. Technology has enhanced the con artists’ ability to trick customers, letting them manipulate caller ID to make it appear as if the call is coming from DTE Energy. In some cases, the perpetrators provide call-back numbers that play a recorded greeting similar to DTE’s customer service line.

“Our customer safety and trust is a top priority for us. We want our customers to know that DTE would never ask for immediate payment or the need for money wiring through Bitcoin or other sources. “We are working diligently to combat these scams, and we urge customers to know the red flags of scams so they do not fall victim.”

Angie Pizzuti, vice president of customer service

Customers should verify all information before making payments over the phone, and should learn to recognize 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 our 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 bells 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 payment 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 Customer Service at 800.477.4747. Similar scams also spoof caller ID and claim to be the IRS and other 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 refund. Our employees never hand 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 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 identities may be compromised, DTE advises all customers to immediately call their local police, take advantage of free credit reporting, watch for new accounts opened in their name and report any unusual activity to DTE immediately.