It can happen to anyone, at any time, in any way.
Someone calls or knocks on your door — impersonating a Tampa Electric representative and tells you that your electric bill is past due. They demand that you buy a prepaid debit card from a local drug or convenience store and call them back with the card number to avoid disconnection of your service.
It may sound convincing, but it’s very much a scam.
Unfortunately, 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 appear legitimate. They often target elderly customers, customers who speak English as a second language and small businesses because they are most vulnerable.
At Tampa Electric, we’re committed to keeping our customers safe and that includes protecting you from scammers. So here is some important information to help you avoid being the victim of a scam.
- 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 Venmo or Zelle). Scammers will request that you make payment as quickly as possible.
- Be suspicious of anyone demanding payment over the phone for your electric bill.
- Be aware the number on your Caller ID may appear to be from Tampa Electric, but it could be a “spoofed” number to make the call appear legitimate. If in doubt, hang up and call Tampa Electric at 888-223-0800 weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Know what you owe. Reference your most recent bill or log into your online account to check your account status.
- 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, like the pandemic. In fact, about 5,000 Tampa Electric customers reported hearing from scammers in 2021 – that’s twice as many as the previous year.
- 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.
We encourage you to share this information with friends, business owners and members of your family, especially the elderly, who are often victimized by scammers. Together, we have the power to stop scammers.
If you have been a victim of a scam, please contact your local law enforcement or Crime Stoppers at 800-873-TIPS.
For additional information about utility and other types of scams, cybersecurity and phishing, check out these resources:
- Download our tip sheet in English or Spanish.
- Common scams and signs and consumer guide from Utilities United Against Scams
- Scammers pretend to be your utility company from the Federal Trade Commission
- Investment fraud and scam information from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- COVID-19 phishing alert from the United States Secret Service
- Scammers now requesting payment through mobile applications – TECO news release
- Fraud & Scams – your guide to outsmarting scammers from Florida’s Chief Financial Officer
- Consumer alerts – see recent scam alerts from the office of Attorney General Ashley Moody