For Immediate Release: November 15, 2017
Tucson, Ariz. –UniSource Energy Services (UES) is warning customers to be on alert for suspicious phone calls, text messages and letters from scammers who impersonate UES employees while trying to steal money using high-pressure tactics.
UES 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, about 100 natural gas and electric customers throughout the state have reported being targeted by phone scammers. In a few cases, customers were tricked into sending their money to scammers who use tactics that UES would never employ.
Here’s how the scam frequently works: Callers who claim to be UES 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 UES.
Here are several 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. UES 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. UES 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 UES’ mobile app, is available at uesaz.com.
- Contact UES, not the scammers. Customers with questions about their bill or concerns about these issues can call UES’ Customer Care team at (877) 837-4968 – the number listed on their monthly bill and uesaz.com. Don’t call other phone numbers provided by scammers.
UES provides electric service to approximately 95,000 customers in Mohave and Santa Cruz counties. The company also provides natural gas to approximately 154,000 customers in northern and southern Arizona. For more information, visit uesaz.com. UES 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