Recognize and Report Scams

End the Call. End the Scam.

Utility customers throughout the Austin area are being targeted by utility scams each day. The scammers claim to work for City of Austin Utilities, Austin Energy, or Austin Water. They typically reach customers by phone call, letter, or email, but may also send text messages, show up in your social media feed, or even visit your home.

Scammers often use valid-looking phone numbers, official-looking letterheads or bills, graphics, uniforms, and other forms of fraudulent identification.

Sometimes, the scammer warns that your utilities will be disconnected if you fail to make an immediate payment, typically using a non-traceable payment method. Other scammers want to sell you solar panels, pressuring you to sign a contract right away, and may lie about how much it will cost or how much money you will save on your electric bill as a result.

These scammers want your money! Don’t let them have it!

If someone is trying to scare you into immediate payment or convince you of something that sounds too good to be true about solar panels, stop the conversation. Listen to your instincts. Get the facts.

Don’t respond to the suspicious email, voicemail, or text. Visit COA Utilities to check your account status. Email Austin Energy’s solar team to get advice about solar panels or check out our free solar education.

How to Spot a Utility Bill Scam

  • Threat to disconnect — The scammer aggressively tells you that your account is past due, and service will be disconnected — usually within an hour — if a large payment is not made. They ask you to quickly purchase a gift card or prepaid credit card, or to pay through a third-party payment transfer app, or even cryptocurrency. Making a payment through these methods makes it nearly impossible to trace the scammer or recover the funds.
  • Overpayment trick — Alternately, scammers may claim you have overpaid your utility bill. They ask for your personal bank account information or credit card number to “refund” the overpayment. Never give anyone you don’t know any personal or financial information. 

How to Spot a Solar Scam

  • Promises an immediate roof inspection — The scammer comes to your door, says they can assess your roof that day to give you an estimate on solar panels, and might ask to come inside. 
  • Claims that Austin Energy sells solar — The scammer tells you they work for Austin Energy and can sell you solar panels, or that they are a solar company representing Austin Energy.
  • Makes extreme, unbelievable claims — The scammer says you can go off-grid by installing solar or that you will not receive electric bills anymore.
  • Gives you false incentive information — The scammer tells you that you can get net metering from Austin Energy and/or that Austin Energy will pay for your solar.

How to Protect Yourself

  • If you receive a phone call, letter, text, 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, visit Online Customer Care or call 512-494-9400.
  • If you want more information about solar installations and how to talk to solar installers, access Austin Energy’s solar education course or email Austin Energy’s solar team.

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.
  • Try to sell you a solar system for your home or business.

Don't Fall for the Call

Learn More

Date last reviewed or modified: 09/26/2022