Utility customers throughout the Austin area are being targeted by impostor utility scams each day. Scammers typically reach customers by phone call, letter, or email, but may also send text messages or even visit your home.
The scammer warns that the customer’s utilities will be disconnected if the customer fails to make an immediate payment, typically using a reloadable prepaid debit card or other non-traceable form of payment.
Scammers often use valid-looking phone numbers, official-looking letterheads or bills, graphics, uniforms, and other forms of fraudulent identification. City of Austin Utilities is sharing this information to help customers recognize and avoid falling for scams.
How to Recognize a Scam
- Threat to disconnect — The impostor utility representative aggressively tells the customer his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected — usually within an hour — if a large payment is not made.
- Request for immediate payment —The scammer instructs the customer to quickly purchase a prepaid debit card, widely available at retail stores.
- Request for prepaid debit card info — The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid debit card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds.
How to Protect Yourself
- If you receive a phone call, letter, or email threatening to interrupt service, hang up and dial 3-1-1 to report it.
- Make a note of call details, especially the phone number that appeared on Caller ID and the number the scammer requested that you call back to make payment. Austin Energy works with law enforcement and other partners investigating criminals and assisting in shutting down scams.
- If you are uncertain of your account status, login to City of Austin Utilities or call 512-494-9400 to speak with a representative.
City of Austin Utilities Will NEVER:
- Call residential customers with immediate cut-off deadlines. (Note: Commercial customers may receive a courtesy call two days prior to scheduled cut off for non-payment.)
- Ask for credit card or wire transfer information over the phone.
- Demand immediate payment in person with cash, gift card, Bitcoin, or any non-traceable form of payment.
Don't Fall for the Call
- Get more tips for how to stay safe from utility scams
- View all authorized bill payment options and walk-in locations