Phone call scam alert

Tucson Electric Power is warning customers against phone scammers posing as company employees asking for over the phone payment.

Tucson Electric Power recently released a statement urging customers to learn how to protect themselves from scammers who impersonating TEP employees “while trying to steal money using suspicious phone calls, text messages, letters and visits.”

TEP, along with more than 100 other electric, gas and water utilities in North America, have come together in an awareness campaign designed to help customers recognize techniques used in ongoing scams. According to the company, more than 1,400 TEP customers have reported being targeted this year. TEP also said that nearly a dozen homeowners and small businesses were tricked into sending money to scammers.

According to a release from TEP, scammers attempt to steal customer funds by claiming to report be a TEP employee and who threatens to disconnect service for unpaid bills or damaged electric meters. Scammers often instruct customers to make payment over the phone with a pre-paid money card within a short amount of time to avoid shutoff.

In some cases, TEP has been informed by customers that callers instruct to bring a money order or cashier’s check to a local pharmacy or to pay in bitcoin. Some scammers have also reportedly enticed intended victims by offering a month of free electric service or bill discounts in exchange for rapid payment.

TEP said it would never use such high-pressure tactics to collect payment. Customers have been asked to consider 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.

This news item was released by Tucson Electric Power and edited by Tucson Local Media staff.

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