The “heat is on” and the monsoon is here, the right combinations for the fraudsters. The calls keep coming, a sign that the relentless scammers are busy working to convince you that a call or email is from a reliable source.
There are primarily two ways that scammers hope to deceive you. Because of the increased temperatures, you may receive a phone call from your electric provider. Tucson Electric Power or Trico Electric Cooperative will never call you requesting that you to pay a bill immediately—-especially with a gift card.
Most would-be-victims respond they have already paid their bill. However, you’ll be told your payment has not been received, possibly due to a computer glitch or mail delay. It is the weekend and the office is closed except for emergency situations. That is why gift cards are requested. The scammers claim to have an agreement with a gift card company which will permit them to receive your payment immediately. That will prevent your electricity from being shut off!
The second way the scammers operate is to ask for the routing number of your checking account or credit card information to make the payment. But this is not how utility companies operate. If the office is closed, who is calling you requesting immediate payment, so that your air conditioner continues to cool your home?
Businesses are not exempt from this ruse. They are busy, especially on the weekend. Having the power shut off would be disastrous. The owner of a restaurant in Green Valley was conned into making a “payment” to the fraudsters only a year ago. The fraudsters take advantage of a busy time, then add fear.
Another way to obtain information is to claim the computer system of your bank has been temporarily “wiped out” due to some aberrant weather. One woman reported being told that it was due to a “solar flare” that affected computer information on their savings and checking accounts.
This is the typical phishing for personal account information ruse. They will use any contrived weather condition to convince you to provide information that gives access to your accounts. Yes, the weather can affect storage information, but it is usually a temporary event.
If you receive an email or call that there is a problem and demands are made for information or money is requested, hang up! Disregard the email. Call your bank, credit union or utility. Do not panic that your air conditioner will be turned off. Simply call the company for confirmation.
Do not fall victim to these scams. Call the Scam Squad so that we may notify your neighbors and friends of any current circulating scams.
Call the Pima County Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers with information about scams and frauds. To contact the Scam Squad directly, 9 am to noon Monday through Friday, call (520) 351-6715, or email: email@example.com. To report suspicious activity or a particular incident of fraud (which is a scam involving a loss of money) call (520) 351-4900.
If you are interested in becoming a Sheriff's Auxiliary Volunteer, please firstname.lastname@example.org for an application or call (520) 351-6746.