Phone-based scam targets Spanish-speaking utility customers - WFLA News Channel 8

Phone-based scam targets Spanish-speaking utility customers

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Beware of crooks impersonating representatives from your utility company. Local energy providers, Progress Energy Florida and Tampa Electric, have teamed up to warn customers of a recent telephone-based scam in the Tampa Bay area targeting Spanish-speaking residents.

A version of this scam first appeared last summer duping many customers. Several complaints describe how someone impersonating a utility representative calls a customer - claiming their account is past due or there is a problem with the electric meter that requires a deposit. 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.

Both Progress Energy Florida and Tampa Electric advise customers that they would never ask for credit card or debit card numbers.

Customers are advised to contact their energy provider if they are ever unsure about an individual's association with the company.

For verification of utility company individuals, customers can call the following:

  • Progress Energy, call 1-800-700-8744
  • Tampa Electric:
    • Hillsborough County, call 813-223-0800
    • Polk County, call 863-299-0800
    • All other areas, call 1-888-223-0800

If you suspect you have become a victim of this scam, the utilities recommend you:

  • Call your utility to inform them of the scam
  • If you have lost money, call local law enforcement to file a report.

All Progress Energy and Tampa Electric employees and contractors doing utility work are required to carry photo identification cards. If someone claiming to be a utility representative visits your home or business, request to see their badge or please call the company to verify their identity.

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