Tucson, Ariz. – As National Scam Awareness Day approaches next Wednesday, UniSource Energy Services is reminding customers to protect themselves from scammers who impersonate UniSource employees while trying to steal money or personal information using phone calls, text messages, letters and visits.
UniSource has joined more than 150 other electric, gas and water utilities in North America in an awareness campaign designed to help customers recognize suspicious, high-pressure tactics used in ongoing scams. Dozens of UniSource customers have reported being targeted this year by scammers.
Most frequently, UniSource customers report receiving a phone call from someone who claims to be a UniSource employee and threatens to disconnect service for unpaid bills or damaged service meters. 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. Other tactics used by scammers include:
- Instructing customers to bring a money order or cashier’s check to a local pharmacy or to pay in bitcoin.
- Enticing intended victims by offering a month of free gas or electric service or bill discounts in exchange for rapid payment.
- Claiming customers have overpaid their utility bills and requesting personal bank account information or a credit card number to facilitate a refund.
- Contacting customers via text message, registered letter or in person. They sometimes use software that disguises phone calls or text messages to make them appear as if they’re coming from UniSource or a government agency.
UniSource would never use 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. Ending the call ends their scam. 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. UniSource 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. UniSource 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 UniSource’s mobile app, is available at uesaz.com.
Contact UniSource, not the scammers. Customers with questions about their bill or concerns about scams are welcome to call UniSource’s Customer Care team at 1-877-837-4968 – the number listed on their monthly bill and uesaz.com. Don’t call other phone numbers provided by scammers. Customers also can check their account status at any time at uesaz.com or UniSource’s mobile app.
This year, UniSource supported an effort by the Arizona Attorney General’s office and the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance to combat utility gift card scams across the state. Warning signs prompting customers to consider why they have been instructed to buy a prepaid card are installed at more than 1,200 grocery and convenience stores throughout Arizona.
Recurring safety inspections and routine maintenance performed by our employees require access to meters, service lines and other equipment on customer property. Our employees must be able to safely reach this equipment to properly assess its condition and perform work. Here’s how customers can identify both UniSource gas employees and UniSource electric employees working near their home or business:
- Look for the UniSource logo on the employee’s clothing, safety equipment and vehicle.
- Ask to see the employee’s identification. All employees are required to show their ID badge when asked.
- Call UniSource directly at 1-877-837-4968 to verify the employee’s identity and reason for work in the area.
UniSource provides natural gas service to more than 163,000 customers in northern and southern Arizona. It also provides electric service to more than 98,000 customers in Mohave and Santa Cruz counties. For more information about UniSource, visit uesaz.com. UniSource 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.
News Media Contact: