TPU reports increase in scam calls to customers

Scam calls to Tacoma Public Utilities customers have seen a dramatic spike in recent weeks, the agency said Thursday.

Dozens of customers, mostly small businesses, have received calls demanding an immediate payment with a prepaid card. If the customer doesn’t comply, the caller threatens to disconnect service.

The customers have been directed to buy a Green Dot or Money Pak card.

“We sometimes make courtesy calls to remind customers that they have a payment due,” Customer Services Manager Steve Hatcher said. “We may offer customers the option of paying with a credit card, but we never say they must make an immediate payment with a prepaid card or we will disconnect their services.”

Tacoma police are investigating the scam but have not yet made any arrests.

The fake callers are using the names of actual TPU employees but it’s unclear where they’re getting the information, spokeswoman Chris Gleason said.

On Tuesday, six local businesses received scam calls.

TPU encourages customers who receive the calls to report them. Victims of the scam have been asked to call 800-791-0206 to provide prepaid card information. That phone number is not associated with TPU, the agency said.

Customers who think they received a scam call are asked to check their account status and report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-FTC-HELP.