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Scams

 
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Protect yourself from payment scammers by understanding what types of scams are being run and what to do if you get a suspicious call or email about your bill. Tacoma Public Utilities takes the security of our customers seriously and wants you to be prepared if you are contacted by a scammer. 

Latest Scam - June 2018

Demanding Face-to-Face Payment by Pre-Paid Debit Card 

Tacoma Public Utilities’ Customer Services team has been flooded by phone calls from customers concerned they may have been the target of a scam. 

The scam calls start out the same way they often do, with customers hearing their account is delinquent. The scammers tell customers their utilities will be shut off unless they make a payment immediately – many demanding $1,000 or more. 

“Because credit/debit cards take time to process” they say, customers are told to purchase pre-paid debit cards at a local convenience store. Instead of taking payment over the phone, however, customers are told to meet a “utility worker” at their meter box or local business to ensure payment is received

Requesting face-to-face contact with customers is a new – and potentially dangerous – approach by scammers.

Tacoma Public Utilities is partnering with the Tacoma Police Department to help keep utility customers safe, with a goal to reach our customers before they become a victim.

 

What to watch for 
 
  • Scammers posing as utility employees are contacting Tacoma Public Utilities customers mainly by phone.
  • Scammers are threatening to shut off power if payments are not immediately made.
  • Scammers are pressuring customers to obtain pre-paid credit cards or provide cash to make immediate payments.
  • Scammers are targeting non- or limited-English speaking businesses. 

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How to verify a TPU representative 
 
Tacoma Public Utilities will never call demanding immediate payment over the phone. We follow a specific protocol when receiving payments or notifying a customer when we will shut off power. 


Tacoma Public Utilities employees will:

  • Never call, email, or make a home visit demanding an immediate payment.
  • Never call, email, or make a home visit requesting credit card, banking, or financial information.
  • Never request payment on a prepaid card.
  • Never shut off service without providing written notice at least 7 days in advance.
  • Provide Employee Identification on request.
  • Offer many ways to pay

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What to do if you suspect a scam
 
 If you think someone is trying to scam you, contact Tacoma Public Utilities during regular business hours to find out if payment is due. You can also check your account status online at MyTPU.org/MyAccount.
  • Remember TPU accepts traditional payment methods of cash, check, credit and debit cards. It is never necessary for you to buy a separate prepaid card to avoid disconnection. See our Ways to Pay.
  • Never give your credit or debit card number or any other personal information to anyone without knowing their true identity.
  • Remember that scammers can make it look like they’re calling or emailing from the utility when they are calling from somewhere else. 

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How to report a scammer
 

TPU encourages customers to report suspicious activities that could be a payment scam. 

  • Contact Tacoma Public Utilities Customer Services during regular business hours.
  • Report it to local law enforcement

 

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Additional resources: