For Immediate Release: November 14, 2018
Tucson, Ariz. – Tucson Electric Power (TEP) wants to make sure customers know how to protect themselves from scammers who impersonate TEP employees while trying to steal money using suspicious phone calls, text messages, letters and visits.
TEP has joined more than 100 other electric, gas and water utilities in North America in an awareness campaign designed to help customers recognize the high-pressure techniques used in ongoing scams. More than 1,400 TEP customers have reported being targeted this year by scammers. Unfortunately, nearly a dozen homeowners and small businesses were tricked into sending their money to scammers using tactics that TEP would never employ.
Most frequently, TEP customers report receiving a phone call from someone who claims to be a TEP employee and threatens to disconnect service for unpaid bills or damaged electric meters. Scammers often instruct customers to make payment over the phone with a pre-paid money card within a short amount of time – often an hour or less – to avoid shutoff. Callers may use an angry or urgent tone of voice to pressure customers into making a payment.
In some cases, callers instruct customers to bring a money order or cashier’s check to a local pharmacy or to pay in bitcoin. Some scammers entice their intended victims by offering a month of free electric service or bill discounts in exchange for rapid payment.
Scammers also will contact customers via text message, registered letter or in person. They sometimes use software that disguises phone calls or text messages to make them appear as if they’re coming from TEP.
TEP would never use such high-pressure tactics to collect payment. Customers can follow a few simple steps to protect themselves:
- Hang up. Customers who suspect they are targets of a phone scam should simply hang up. Similarly, they can delete suspicious emails and text messages or shut the door on suspicious visitors. Customers concerned for their physical safety should call 911. TEP only contacts customers by phone with automated bill payment reminders as a courtesy, and never demands immediate payment.
- Don’t follow scammers’ instructions to buy prepaid cards. TEP never urges customers to purchase prepaid money cards to pay a monthly bill. A complete list of legitimate payment methods, including payment online and through TEP’s mobile app, is available at tep.com.
- Contact TEP, not the scammers. Customers with questions about their bill or concerns about scams are welcome to call TEP’s Customer Care team at (520) 623-7711 – the number listed on their monthly bill and tep.com. Don’t call other phone numbers provided by scammers. Customers also can check their account status at any time at tep.com or TEP’s mobile app.
TEP provides safe, reliable and affordable electric service to approximately 424,000 customers in Southern Arizona. For more information, visit tep.com. TEP and its parent company, UNS Energy, are subsidiaries of Fortis Inc., which owns utilities that serve more than 3 million customers across Canada and in the United States and the Caribbean. To learn more, visit fortisinc.com.
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