For Immediate Release: November 15, 2017
Tucson, Ariz. –Tucson Electric Power (TEP) is warning customers to be on alert for suspicious phone calls, text messages and letters from scammers who impersonate TEP employees while trying to steal money using high-pressure tactics.
TEP is among more than 100 gas, electric and water utilities across North America participating in an awareness campaign designed to help customers recognize and protect themselves from ongoing scams.
This year, more than 1,000 TEP customers have reported being targeted by phone scammers. Seniors, small businesses and churches are among the nearly two dozen customers tricked into sending their money to scammers who use tactics that TEP would never employ.
Here’s how the scam frequently works: Callers who claim to be TEP employees attempt to steal customers’ money by threatening to disconnect service for unpaid bills or damaged electric meters. Scammers 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. The 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.
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 appear as if they’re coming from TEP.
Here are a few steps customers can take 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 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 pre-paid 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 these issues can 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.
TEP provides safe, reliable electric service to nearly 420,000 customers in Southern Arizona. For more information, visit tep.com. TEP and its parent company, UNS Energy, are subsidiaries of Fortis Inc., a leader in the North American regulated electric and gas utility industry. For more information, visit fortisinc.com.
News Media Contact: Joseph Barrios, (520) 884-3725, firstname.lastname@example.org