TUCSON, Ariz. — A phone scam targeting Tucson Electric Power customers is ramping up in 2019, according to TEP.
"Typically we receive about 120 to 130 calls every month," TEP spokesman Joe Barrios said. "This year it seems like the volume is up to around 150."
Here's how it works: Scammers use software to make it look like their call is coming from the TEP customer care line. They use a recorded message to prompt TEP customers into paying their bill over the phone using money orders or cash cards. After the customer pays the scammers there is no way for them to get their money back, and they're still on the hook for their regular electric bill.
"There is software available that makes the incoming call appear as if the call is coming from Tucson Electric Power so what displays is our number 623-7711," Barrios said. "What's key to keep in mind is the scammer will give the customer a different phone number to call."
Barrios said if someone claiming to be from Tucson Electric Power calls and tells you to call a different number that's a scam.
Jovanna Durazo got the call a few weeks ago. She told KGUN 9 the recording she received was in spanish. Jovanna was prompted to press one to pay her bill and press three to speak to a representative of TEP.
"So, I pressed three and it just hung up on me," Jovanna said.
She then did exactly what TEP recommends, which is to call their customer care line.
Jovanna said she's not worried about getting scammed herself, because she's not even a TEP customer. Her main concern is customers like her father-in-law who may pay the scammers out of fear his service will be disconnected.
"Eventually you're going to get caught and being untrustworthy and that's who you are," Jovanna said. "That's pretty bad."