For Immediate Release | November 16, 2016
Tucson, Ariz. – Tucson Electric Power (TEP) reminds customers to protect themselves from scammers who claim to work for TEP and try to solicit payments using phone calls, text messages and letters.
TEP is joining utilities across North America this week in a campaign to prevent long-running scams that target customers of electric, gas and water utility service providers. Scammers have contacted more than 170 TEP customers over the past year, and more than a dozen were tricked into sending them money.
Here’s how the scam works: Callers who claim to work for TEP attempt to steal customers’ money by threatening to disconnect service for unpaid bills or damaged electric meters. They tell 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, callers instruct customers to bring a money order or cashier’s check to a local pharmacy. In others, scammers contact customers via text message or even registered letter.
Some scammers use ID spoofing software that disguises phone calls or text messages to appear as though they’re coming from TEP. The callers may pressure customers to make large payments within a short amount of time by using an angry or urgent tone of voice.
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. A complete list of legitimate payment methods, including payment online and by phone, is available on TEP’s website at tep.com.
Customers with questions about their bill or concerns about the issues described above are welcome to call TEP’s Customer Care team at (520) 623-7711.
TEP provides safe, reliable electric service to approximately 417,000 customers in southern Arizona. To learn more, 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.