For Immediate Release: November 14, 2018
Tucson, Ariz. – UniSource Energy Services wants to make sure customers know how to protect themselves from scammers who impersonate UniSource employees while trying to steal money using suspicious phone calls, text messages, letters and visits.
UniSource has joined more than 100 other electric, gas and water utilities in North America in an awareness campaign designed to help customers recognize the high-pressure techniques used in ongoing scams. More than 175 UniSource electric and gas customers throughout Arizona 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 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.
In some cases, callers instruct customers to bring a money order or cashier’s check to a local pharmacy or to pay in bitcoin. Some scammers entice their intended victims by offering a month of free service or bill discounts in exchange for rapid payment.
Scammers also will contact 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 the company.
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. 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 (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.
UniSource provides natural gas to approximately 156,000 customers in Northern and Southern Arizona. The company also provides electric service to approximately 96,000 customers in Mohave and Santa Cruz counties. For more information, 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.
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