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Ariz. AG warns of scammers claiming to be utility companies

By Bryan Cohen | Apr 4, 2014

PHOENIX (Legal Newsline) - Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne warned consumers on Wednesday about multiple scams related to local utility companies, including Tucson Electric Power, Arizona Public Service and Salt River Project.

Scammers posing as TEP, APS and SRP employees are reportedly calling consumers threatening to shut off power within a few hours if payment is not made right away. The scam artists request payment in the form of a credit card, a pre-paid card or PayPal payment. The callers claim to be from the utility company's disconnect department and provide a phone number to call once the customer has purchased the pre-paid card.

When customers call back to provide the payment information, the scam artists obtain access to the funds.

In a related scam, scammers go to the homes of consumers and ask for money to keep the power on or make repairs to utility equipment.

The scam artists are targeting both individual customers and small businesses. The scammers strike the businesses during busy times. For instance, scam artists called flower shops on Valentine's Day and restaurants during the lunch rush.

Legitimate utility companies will neither make calls of this nature nor will they ask for credit card, pre-paid card or PayPal payments over the phone. Utility companies send out a reminder bill if a payment is past due and the account becomes eligible for disconnection. The companies will also place an automated call that gives customers the option to talk directly to the utility provider.

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