Scams are on the Rise

Cybersecurity Awareness Month, held every October, is a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure everyone in the country has the resources they need to be safer and more secure online.

Stay alert. Scammers know just when to strike.

Do Your Part. #BECYBERSMART.

Scammers never stop and are always looking for new ways to take advantage of those who let their guard down. The latest tactic – scammers are now requesting payment through mobile applications. Here’s how this new twist plays out:

CybersecurityMainImage.jpg

  • Someone falsely claiming to be a Tampa Electric representative calls a customer from a phone number that appears to be from the utility, which is called “spoofing” and makes it more convincing. It may be a person or an automated voice.
  • The caller claims the account is past due and instructs the customer to buy a money order or a prepaid debit card from a local drug store – usually within 30 to 60 minutes – and demands they call back with the card’s number to avoid disconnection.
  • Many customers have expressed concerns of going to a drug store during the pandemic. The scammer then instructs the customer to download and use a payment app instead.
  • In a few cases, customers have paid the scammer using a mobile payment app.

We encourage to you stay vigilant. If you’re in doubt, simply hang up the phone.

For more than a decade, scammers have been calling customers just like you and demanding payment by prepaid debit cards. Just like in the example above, they “spoof” our phone number to make the call look like it is legitimate. 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.
  • Be wary of anyone demanding payment over the phone for a utility 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 contact the company for verification at 888-223-0800.

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.

 

Ask to see ID

CheckForID_TEC.jpg

All Tampa Electric employees 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 us to verify their identity. If an imposter shows up in person pretending to be from Tampa Electric, immediately report it to your local law enforcement agency.

If you are uncertain about an individual's association with Tampa Electric – or about your bill – you can view your account through Tampa Electric’s secure online portal, tecoaccount.com, or contact Tampa Electric customer care at 888-223-0800.

Tampa Electric is a member of the Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) collaborative. The group consists of more than 150 natural gas, electric and water utility companies across the country and Canada. Members of the organization work across the utility industry and with regulators, law enforcement and telecommunications partners to help stop scams targeting utility customers.

Chat