Phone scam targets utility company customers

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 11:56pm

El Paso Electric Company says a phone scam is targeting its customers.

The scammers are reportedly calling EPE customers, posing as a representative, and threatening to cut off service if the customer doesn't go out and buy a debit card, and give the caller the number.

"From there, it's just like your own personal debit card and if they steal that number, then they can use that debit card for other things," said Henry Quintana, spokesperson for EPE.

Quintana says it's uncommon for EPE to contact customers over the phone about their bills, or to tell them their service will be shut down.

"We have to be very careful when somebody asks us on the phone to go get money to pay a bill," said Quintana.

According to EPE, customers of other utility companies in El Paso, like water and gas, are also being targeted by these types of scammers.

If you receive a call from somebody posing as a company rep, El Paso Electric recommends you hang up and call the company yourself to verify if they're trying to get a hold of you.

We asked El Pasoans how they handle suspicious phone calls.

"Usually, I'll just answer the phone in different languages if I don't recognize the number," said Eric Tanuz.

"I try to keep up with the scams. I read the newspapers and the Internet, and all that. I try to turn things back on them, confuse them. They'll tell me one thing and I'll try to catch them in a lie or try to get them around something else. I used to be a salesman so I can double-talk anybody," said Conrado Montes.

"I know people are trying to make a living, and they're trying to do things to get ahead. They may be doing it the right way, they might be trying to do it the wrong way, but either way, they're not getting my money," said Tanuz.

El Paso Electric Company says almost 30 customers were targeted by a scammer in the month of April alone. They urge the public to call the police if anyone does receive a suspicious phone call. 

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