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It’s scammers, not Tampa Electric, telling customers to pay up or lose power

As Hurricane Ian looms, con artists are trying to scare residents out of their money, but don’t fall for it.
Beware of scammers who contact you by email or text to tell you your electricity is about to be cut off unless you pay your bill immediately.
Beware of scammers who contact you by email or text to tell you your electricity is about to be cut off unless you pay your bill immediately. [ ELISE AMENDOLA | AP ]
Published Sep. 28

TAMPA - Scammers never miss a chance to take advantage of a situation — including using an impending major hurricane to prey on worried residents.

Tampa Electric Co. has seen an uptick in the last 24 hours in a con that’s been played for years: Bad actors purporting to be the electric utility emailing and texting customers and telling them if they don’t pay their bill right now. their power will be cut off. Links to make payments are often included.

When scammers try this swindle by calling on the phone, they often “spoof” the company’s phone number so it looks like Tampa Electric is calling.

“These emails are not from us,” said Tampa Electric spokesperson Cherie Jacobs. “These are scammers trying to get your money.”

In fact, the company has suspended disconnections until further notice. “The employees of Tampa Electric are 100 percent focused on Hurricane Ian,” she said.

While customers would normally be encouraged to call Tampa Electric with questions about their bills, during the storm they can go to tecoaccount.com, she said.

• • •

2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

ROAD CLOSURES: What to know about bridges, roads as Hurricane Ian approaches.

HOW TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT THE HURRICANE: A school mental health expert says to let them know what’s happening, keep a routine and stay calm.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN A SHELTER: What to bring — and not bring — plus information on pets, keeping it civil and more.

WHAT TO DO IF HURRICANE DAMAGES YOUR HOME: Stay calm, then call your insurance company.

SAFEGUARD YOUR HOME: Storms and property damage go hand in hand. Here’s how to prepare.

IT'S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.

RISING THREAT: Tampa Bay will flood. Here's how to get ready.

DOUBLE-CHECK: Checklists for building all kinds of hurricane kits

PHONE IT IN: Use your smartphone to protect your data, documents and photos.

SELF-CARE: Protect your mental health during a hurricane.

• • •

Rising Threat: A special report on flood risk and climate change

PART 1: The Tampa Bay Times partnered with the National Hurricane Center for a revealing look at future storms.

PART 2: Even weak hurricanes can cause huge storm surges. Experts say people don't understand the risk.

PART 3: Tampa Bay has huge flood risk. What should we do about it?

INTERACTIVE MAP: Search your Tampa Bay neighborhood to see the hurricane flood risk.

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