Naughty or nice? There’s no doubt which list scammers are on. But too often, that doesn’t stop them from raking in gifts. Because while we’re busy spreading holiday cheer, they’re busy scooping up our identities, bank accounts and more.

These days scammers can be pretty much everywhere, from your phone to your email to your own front door. So how do you make sure you’re not accidentally giving them money this holiday season? Here are a few warning signs that should make you (and Rudolph) run.

You’re feeling pressured, intimidated or fearful

Holiday hustle and bustle can stress anyone out. But if someone is decking your halls with a sense of panic, that’s a flag as red as Rudolph’s nose. Scammers like to prey on your emotions because it makes it harder for you to think clearly or ask the right questions. If you’re feeling pressured or intimidated, step back a moment, hang up or walk away. You may be holly, jolly glad you did.

Someone is demanding immediate payment by prepaid card or cash app

Everyone loves a gift card … including scammers. In fact, prepaid debit cards and immediate payments from cash apps like Venmo and Zelle are top of every scammer’s wish list. That’s why demands for these kinds of payments should also cause your internal warning bells to jingle. Remember that Duke Energy never threatens immediate disconnection or demands payment by prepaid cards or cash apps. If you’re not sure, contact the company directly using a trusted number like the one printed on your bill.

Something looks just a bit … off

Scammers get more sophisticated all the time, with new ways to fake caller ID, emails, text messages, even web search results. So before you act, take a closer look. If we call or visit you, we won’t demand personal information or threaten you with disconnection. Instead, we’ll provide info and identification to verify ourselves. A legitimate text from us will never include your full personal information and links will start with And, finally, if you’re rockin’ around the world wide web, avoid ad search results when paying your bill online. Instead, go directly to the company’s url.

You’re just not sure … Maybe it’s a scam? Maybe it’s not?

Sometimes it’s really hard to tell. Scammers are cleverer than a workshop full of elves and twice as busy.

Bottom line, if you have any concerns, disengage. Hang up the phone, shut the door, refuse to click. Learn more about utility scams on our website. And if you’re not sure about a communication from Duke Energy, call us at 800.700.8744. Remember, a little extra caution can help keep your holidays merry and bright.