Tacoma Public Utilities’ Customer Services team has been flooded by phone calls from customers concerned they may have been the target of a scam. Nearly 200 people have contacted the utility in the past two days, sharing information about scam attempts. Scammers have taken a scary, and potentially dangerous, approach.
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.
Keep these things in mind if you get a call about your utility account. Tacoma Public Utilities employees will:
- Never call, email, or make a home visit demanding an immediate payment.
- Never request payment on a prepaid card.
- Never call, email, or make a home visit requesting credit card, banking, or financial information.
- Never shut off service without providing written notice at least 7 days in advance.