More than 300,000 Duke Energy customers in North and South Carolina may have had their personal and banking information stolen.
Duke Energy announced on Tuesday, Dec. 5, that customers who paid a bill at one of the Charlotte, N.C.-based company’s 550 authorized walk-in payment processing centers between 2008 and 2017 may have been affected by a data breach.
“We regret the frustration and inconvenience this issue has created for our customers who rely on our authorized walk-in locations to pay their monthly energy bills,” Lesley Quick, Duke Energy’s vice president of revenue services, said in a statement.
The data breach only affects customers who paid by check or cash; it does not affect customers who paid with a bank card or another form of payment.
The walk-in payment sites included grocery stores, convenience stores, and other businesses that accept payments for other companies, according to a press release.
Evidence of a data breach was uncovered in July when TIO Networks, a payment processing vendor, was purchased by PayPal Holdings Inc. The potentially compromised data includes names, addresses, Duke Energy account numbers and balances, and banking information, if a customer paid by check.
“This TIO Networks issue has possibly and unfortunately affected some of our customers, and we are doing all we can to help,” Quick said. “We have remained in daily contact with our vendor since they abruptly and unexpectedly disabled their network on Nov. 10 for suspected security vulnerabilities.”
Both Duke and PayPal said their own systems were not compromised.
TIO is currently working with the companies it services to send letters to customers who were potentially affected by the data breach. The letter will include detailed questions and answers and a phone number for additional information.
The company plans to offer 12 months of free credit monitoring to anyone affected by the breach and 24 months of free credit monitoring to anyone whose Social Security number was shared without authorization.
Duke Energy customers in South Carolina can continue to make payments in person at any Western Union location, or they can pay by check, debit, or credit card online or by calling 800-777-9898. Customers who believe they may be impacted or have questions should visit TIO Networks for more information.