Scammers who want to steal your money can strike at any time.
Year-round, TEP customers report suspicious phone calls, text messages, letters and even visits from scammers who impersonate TEP employees while using high-pressure tactics.
Here are tips to help you avoid becoming the victim of a scam.
Beware the Scam
Many customers have reported being contacted by someone pretending to work for TEP who threatened to disconnect their service due to unpaid bills or damaged electric meters. Customers were urged to make payment over the phone with a pre-paid money card within a short amount of time – usually an hour or less – to avoid shutoff.
These scammers may use an angry or urgent tone of voice to pressure you into making a payment. Scammers also might entice their intended victims by offering a month of free electric service or bill discounts. In some cases, they instruct customers to bring a money order or cashier’s check to a local pharmacy or to pay in bitcoin. Some scammers 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 employ such high-pressure tactics to collect payment. Here are several steps you can take to avoid being duped by scammers.
- Hang up. If you suspect you are the target of a phone scam, just hang up. Don’t feel pressured to provide personal information or take any action. Similarly, you can delete suspicious emails or shut the door on suspicious visitors. If you’re concerned for your physical safety, 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 pre-paid money cards to pay a monthly bill. Scammers will ask for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds. A complete list of legitimate payment methods, including payment online and through TEP’s mobile app, is available by clicking here.
- Contact TEP. If you have questions about your bill or concerns about these issues, please call TEP’s Customer Care team at (520) 623-7711 – the number listed on your monthly bill and here, on tep.com. Don’t call other phone numbers provided by scammers. Customers also can log in or use TEP’s mobile app to check account status.
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.
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.
These long-running scams can take many forms. Scammers have claimed to work for the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) and tried to convince customers to buy into a home repair grant scheme. 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.