Utility Scammers again targeting Spanish-speaking customers

September 20, 2019

City of Austin Utilities wants all customers to be aware of individuals posing as City of Austin or Austin Energy employees. These scammers are trying to take advantage of customers and steal money from them.

This week, the Utilities Customer Contact Center heard from at least 70 customers, both residential and commercial, most of them Spanish-speaking. The scammers are leaving voice messages, telling customers that they owe money and that their utilities will be cut off if immediate payment is not made. When the customer answers the scammers call, they tell the customer they have a past due utility bill and demand payment within 30 minutes with a gift card or pre-paid credit card. The scammers are requesting between $259-900. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear that any customers have fallen for the scam.

Six things to know:

  1. The City of Austin Utilities Customer Contact Center does not call residential customers with cut-off deadlines. (Note: Commercial customers may receive a courtesy call two days prior to scheduled cut off for non-payment.)
  2. We will never ask for credit card or wire transfer information over the phone.
  3. While some customers do pay in cash, the City will never demand immediate payment in person with cash, gift card or Bitcoin.
  4. City of Austin Utilities accepts mail-in or walk-in payments or payments online at coautilities.com.
  5. If a City of Austin customer receives a phone call threatening to interrupt service, demand immediate payment, or request credit card or bank account information, hang up and dial 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 and report the incident immediately.
  6. Anyone who has received such a call or email and is uncertain of his or her account status can call the City of Austin Utilities Customer Contact Center at 512-494-9400.

Customers can make payments at the City’s two walk-in service centers or the following authorized locations: most Austin H-E-B stores, ACE Cash Express, Money Box, Fiesta Mart and Randall’s.

City of Austin walk-in service centers:

  • Utility Service Center (east branch) Rosewood-Zaragosa Center, 2800 Webberville Road, Suite 110, Austin, Texas 78702
  • Utility Customer Service Center (north branch) 8716 Research Blvd, Suite 115, Austin, Texas 78758 (near Ohlen Road and Highway 183)

Staff at authorized locations will ask for the customer’s name, address utility account number or a combination of those identifiers before accepting payment. Balance information can only be provided to an account holder with a photo ID.

City of Austin utility customers who wish to make a utility bill payment by credit card can do so online at coautilities.com. City of Austin customer service representatives may give customers this web address or phone number but will NOT ask for a customer’s credit card number to accept payment.

Learn how to avoid phone scams


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