Scammers demanding prepaid debit cards continue to call Peoples Gas customers under the guise of avoiding disconnection. More than 2,000 TECO customers have reported being contacted by scammers over the last five years.
The utility scam, which first surfaced in 2011, follows this scenario: Someone impersonating a Peoples Gas representative calls a customer and claims the account is past due. The caller demands the customer buy a prepaid debit card from a local drug store and call back with the card’s number to avoid disconnection. Scammers appear to be targeting elderly customers and customers who speak English as a second language. In several cases, the scammer ensnared customers, some for about $1,000.
We are working closely with local law enforcement and an internet telephone service provider to shut down some of the scammers’ phones.
Stay vigilant and follow these tips against a utility scam
- Peoples Gas will never call to ask for credit card or debit card numbers.
- Be wary of anyone demanding payment over the phone for a natural bill.
- Never give credit or debit card information over the phone.
- If you are uncertain about an individual’s association with Peoples Gas, please contact the company for verification toll free at 877-832-6747.
- All Peoples Gas team members and contractors working for Peoples Gas are required to carry photo identification cards. If someone claiming to be a Peoples Gas representative visits your home or business, request to see an ID badge or call the company to verify his or her identity.
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 this scam or were contacted by a scammer, please contact your local law enforcement or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS.