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TEP warns customers of credit card fraud calls

Tucson Electric Power is warning customers be wary of callers who pretend to represent the company in fraudulent efforts to obtain credit card information.

Eighteen local businesses have reported receiving telephone calls recently from someone claiming to represent TEP, the company said in a news release.

The caller said the business owner had forgotten to sign a check mailed in with a recent bill and asked for credit card information for payment to avoid having their electric service disconnected, the customers reported.

The scam originally surfaced last month, prompting the company to send out an April 9 news release warning of the tactic. After several weeks passed without further reports, business customers began calling TEP last week to report receiving similar calls.

"TEP would not call and threaten to disconnect anyone's power because they left a signature off a check, and we don't ask for credit card information under those circumstances," said TEP Vice President Steve Lynn in the release. "While we don't know if these are the same callers from last month, they're engaged in a similar effort to defraud our customers."

If customers mail in checks without a signature, a TEP representative will call to ask if they prefer the check be shredded or returned to them via mail, TEP said. Customers can then make payment with a new check, online or through other payment methods without any concern about immediate disconnection.

Lynn said the callers appear to be simply contacting local businesses at random, not based on any records maintained by the company. Customers can contact TEP at 623-7711 if they have questions about their account.

"If you receive a call from someone claiming to represent TEP who asks for your credit card information because you left a signature off a check, hang up and report the call to the police," Lynn said.

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