Austin Energy warns against phone scammers threatening to cut off power

Statement from Austin Energy:

08.14.11 Alberto Martínez AMERICAN-STATESMAN -- A large utility pole off US 183 is part of the grid that distributes power throughout the city. Austin Energy is reporrting a boom in business as the brutal summer prompts people to consume more electricity.

Several Austin residents have reported receiving phone calls from someone claiming to be from Austin Energy, demanding payment of their utility bill within a half-hour, or power will be shut off. If the resident fell for the scam, the scammers presumably would ask for credit card, gift card or bank account information to complete the payment.

Austin Energy, the City’s electric utility, was alerted to the scam callers by the Austin Police Department.

Austin Energy — which manages City of Austin utility billing for water, electricity and other services — does not phone customers with cut-off deadlines, and does not ask for credit card or wire transfer information over the phone.

Austin Energy accepts walk-in payments ONLY at the city’s two walk-in service centers or the following authorized locations: the customer service counters of most Austin H-E-B stores, ACE Cash Express, Money Box, Fiesta Mart and Randall’s.

Staff at authorized locations will ask to see the customer’s utility bill statement before accepting payment.

If an Austin Energy 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.

In addition, anyone who has received such a call and is uncertain of his or her account status can call the Customer Contact Center at (512) 494-9400.

Customers also can call the City of Austin’s Customer Contact Center to ask about the locations and hours of the City’s two walk-in customer service centers.

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

City of Austin utility customers who wish to make a utility bill payment by credit card can do so online at www.coautilities.com or by calling (800) 959-7063, which connects the customer to the City of Austin’s automated utilities payment service (Bill Matrix) to make a payment via credit or debit card or electronic check. 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.

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