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Scam Calls Targeting Austin Utilities Customers On The Rise, Officials Say

Austin Energy crews use a crane to repair a power line.
I-Hwa Cheng
City of Austin Utilities are warning about a rise in scam calls threatening to disconnect service if customers don't make an immediate payment.

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Austin’s utilities department is warning customers about a rise in scam calls trying to dupe them.

City of Austin Utilities said it received 59 reports of scam calls this week. Four people sent about $1,200 to the scammers, officials said.

Officials say the scammers pretend to represent City of Austin Utilities and demand customers make a payment within 30 to 45 minutes to avoid having their utility services disconnected. The scammers told their targets to send them money using a prepaid debit card or using the Zelle digital money transfer service — a trend city officials said they started noticing only recently.

City officials said two toll-free telephone numbers and a landline associated with the scams were recently disconnected.

Anyone who receives a call threatening to disconnect their service, demanding an immediate payment or asking for banking information is urged to hang up and report the incident by calling 311, 512-974-2000 or 512-494-9400.

Zelle says people who sent money to the scammers through their service may not be able to get their money back, but it’s still urging victims to report the incident on Zelle's website or calling 1-844-428-8542.

Officials reminded customers that the city’s utilities department:

  • does not call residential customers to inform them of cut-off deadlines
  • will never request credit card information or money transfers over the phone
  • will never ask for immediate payments to be made in person with cash, gift card or Bitcoin
  • does not currently accept payments through Zelle
Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera is an assistant digital editor for KUT.
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