Tucson Electric Power wants you to protect yourself from ongoing scams targeting utility customers.
In most cases, callers who claim to work for TEP will try to steal your money by threatening to disconnect service for unpaid bills or damaged electric meters that need to be replaced for safety reasons. Callers instruct customers to make payment over the phone with a pre-paid money card within a limited amount of time to avoid shut off.
In some cases, the caller instructs customers to bring a money order or cashier’s check to a local pharmacy. In others, the scammer contacts the customer via text message or even registered letter.
Customers should simply hang up, delete or ignore such communications. TEP does not employ the methods used by these scammers to collect payments. TEP only contacts customers by phone with automated bill payment reminders as a courtesy.
Also, the company never urges customers to purchase pre-paid money cards to pay a monthly bill or to purchase gift cards. A complete list of legitimate payment methods, including payment online and by phone, is available by clicking here.
These long-running scams can take many forms:
- Callers claiming to work for the ACC have tried to convince customers to buy into a home repair grant scheme. For more information about this scam, visit the ACC website.
- Some scammers use ID spoofing software that disguises phone calls to appear as if they’re made by TEP.
- Customers have reported receiving text messages from “TEP Billing” with demands for immediate payment and a link to a website selling gift cards.
- Customers also have reported receiving phone calls with a recording directing them to click through for information about saving money through solar energy. The recording provides inaccurate information about TEP’s proposed rates.
Here are red flags that can alert you to scam activity:
- The scammer becomes angry or uses high-pressure tactics, threatening to disconnect service or warning of a hazardous condition if a large payment isn’t made within a short amount of time.
- The scammer demands the use of a pre-paid debit or credit card, which are widely available at retail stores.
- The scammer asks for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.
If you receive a phone call like this, here are three easy steps to protect yourself:
- Hang up right away.
- Call local police.
- Call TEP directly at (520) 623-7711.
Customers who receive phone calls or text messages like these also are encouraged to contact the Arizona Attorney General’s Tucson office at (520) 628-6504 or to file a consumer complaint at azag.gov. The Attorney General’s office seeks to protect the public and can take legal action in situations that involve violations of state and federal consumer protection laws.
Scammers have targeted utility customers across North America, prompting TEP and other utilities to participate in a consumer awareness campaign titled Utilities United Against Scams. To view a short video about the experiences of phone scam victims, click here.
Similarly, law enforcement and other local agencies have reported that phone scammers have impersonated government employees from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, the City of Tucson Water Department, Pima County Superior Court, the Arizona Attorney General’s office and the Internal Revenue Service.
Customers with questions about their bill or information about the issues described above, or who want to pay their bills by phone, are welcome to call TEP’s Customer Care team at (520) 623-7711.