For Immediate Release: April 25, 2019
Tucson, Ariz. – A surge of suspicious phone calls has prompted Tucson Electric Power (TEP) to remind business owners and residents to protect themselves from phone scammers who falsely claim to work for the company.
More than 100 customers reported yesterday that they received a call from a suspected scammer. Most reported receiving a phone call from someone who claimed to be a TEP employee and threatened to disconnect their electric service unless they made immediate payments.
Such scams have become commonplace despite active prevention efforts by law enforcement and the companies and government agencies whose customers are targeted. TEP typically receives 5-10 such reports each day, but yesterday’s surge represents a significant increase.
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.
TEP never uses 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.
Scammers use software or apps to mask the real phone number, a practice called spoofing. Other times, scammers provide a phone number to call back with a recorded message designed to sound like TEP’s own Call Center. Scammers will ask for immediate payment and threaten to cut off the electricity, sometimes saying TEP is on the way to disconnect service. If customers say they are using Auto Pay, the scammer will say that Auto Pay isn’t working.
For more information, visit tep.com/news/phone-scam.
TEP provides safe, reliable electric service to approximately 425,000 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. For more information, visit fortisinc.com.
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