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Progress Energy Scam Alert For Local Businesses

By: Willard H. Killough III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH – Progress Energy is alerting customers to a scam that seeks to scare local business owners into believing they must pay an overdue bill over the phone or have their power cut off the same day.
According to a release from Progress Energy on their website (, “Recent scams in Progress Energy’s service territories have left some customers out of money and without power. These customers were scammed by individuals or companies claiming to represent Progress Energy.”
The scam centers on misleading phone calls where a person claims to be a representative of Progress Energy.
Accord to Progress “Some customers report receiving phone calls from individuals identifying themselves as Progress Energy employees. In some cases, the customer’s caller identification will display Progress Energy’s name or phone number. The caller attempts to obtain customer account or personal information. Occasionally, Progress Energy MAY call you to discuss your account. If we do, we will provide you with information that only you and Progress Energy would know in order to validate that our call is legitimate. If, after receiving the information, you are uncomfortable providing personal information by phone, or if you believe the call is a scam, hang up and call the company directly at 1-800-452-2777.”
Owner and operator of Olde Salty’s restaurant in Carolina, Brenda Armes, said last week a man called and said she was late paying the electric bill for her restaurant and if she did not pay a certain amount the power would be cut off later that same day. Brenda said the man was aggressive and after a nearly 20 minute call, she ultimately hung up on the man. She said her bill is paid automatically from a checking account each month and there is no way the bill was overdue. She argued that fact with the caller who was very persistent with various excuses in an attempt to scare her into paying over the phone even claiming that if there was an error they would credit her account a later time.
Brenda called the Carolina Beach Police Department to file a police report. She said the officer that responded said one other area restaurant in Carolina Beach had fallen prey to the scam and reported it to police.
Brenda said, “I called Progress Energy and they said it was a scam and told me to call the police to file a report.”
Brenda said the man called himself “Michael Reese” and the phone number indicated “Progress Energy” on her caller ID from a number in the 919 area code. She said his accent was that of a person from a foreign country.
Progress Energy also reported on their website about another “Third Party Payment” scam. According to Progress, “Scam artists claiming to be Progress Energy employees are telling customers they have the ability to wipe out entire account balances – for a cash fee. Please know that no one from Progress Energy will ever offer to pay a customer’s bill in exchange for a fee. Progress Energy only charges convenience fees for payments using its automated phone system and one-time payments made through its website. The company does not charge customers extra fees for paying their bills by mail, at authorized pay agent locations or through customers’ online banking services.”
If you have a question about whether someone is a legitimate representative of Progress Energy, contact the company directly at 1-800-452-2777 to verify the person’s identity. Call police immediately if you believe the person is an imposter.