You’re home enjoying time with your family over a three-day weekend and the phone rings… You’re a restaurant owner in the middle of dinner rush and the phone rings… You’re stocking up at the grocery store in advance of a storm and the phone rings …
Someone is calling to let you know your account is past due and that you must make an immediate payment in order to avoid disconnection of your service. What do you do? Do you stop to check your account status? Do you hang up and call Tampa Electric? Or do you pay?
Scammers know that when you’re distracted, you’re more likely to fall victim to their scam. That’s why scam activity increases around holidays, during busy times and in times of crisis.
Scammers demanding payment by prepaid debit cards have been targeting Tampa Electric customers for nearly a decade. Sometimes they even “spoof” our phone number to make the call look like it is legitimate. The scam typically follows a scenario similar to this: Someone impersonating a company representative calls a customer and claims the account is past due. The caller demands the customer buy a prepaid debit card from a local drug or convenience store and call back with the card’s number to avoid disconnection. Scammers often target elderly customers, customers who speak English as a second language and small businesses.
Stay vigilant and follow these tips:
- Tampa Electric will never call to ask for credit card or debit card numbers.
- We will never ask you to purchase a prepaid credit or debit card.
- We will never ask you to purchase money cards or complete payment through a cash app (like Zelle).
- Be wary of anyone demanding payment over the phone for an electric bill.
- Never give credit or debit card information over the phone.
- Know what you owe. Reference your most recent bill or log into your online account to check your account status.
- If you are uncertain about an individual’s association with Tampa Electric, please call 888-223-0800 for verification.
- All Tampa Electric team members and contractors working for Tampa Electric are required to carry photo identification cards. If someone claiming to be a Tampa Electric representative visits your home or business, request to see an ID badge or call the company to verify his or her identity.
Helpful information about utility and other types scams, cybersecurity and phishing:
- Download our tip sheet in English or Spanish.
- Common scams and signs and consumer guide from Utilities United Against Scams
- Consumer information about COVID-19 scams from the Federal Trade Commission
- Investment fraud and scam information from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- COVID-19 phishing and cyber scam information from the World Health Organization
- COVID-19 phishing alert from the United States Secret Service
- Scammers now requesting payment through mobile applications – TECO news release
Please share this information with friends, business owners and members of your family, especially the elderly, who are often victimized by scammers.
If you have been a victim of a scam or were contacted by a scammer, please contact your local law enforcement or Crime Stoppers at 800-873-TIPS.