AUSTIN (KXAN) - Some Austin Energy ratepayers report being contacted by what sounds like a legitimate customer service representative warning that they're behind in the electric bill, the utility said Monday.
In some cases, customers lives are being threatened. Eunice Ransburg, a manager at the utility customer service center says, "Last week was the first time that I've heard a customer come in saying someone was threatening them and that was very alarming." The customer said she was told if she didn't pay her house would be burned down.
Caller ID shows that the call is from AE's number. And the caller appears knowledgeable about how the city-owned utility operates.
But, AE warned, the calls are bogus and ratepayers could be fooled into shelling out money they don't owe.
They're asking for customers to wire money and also put it on a money card to be sent to them. A real employee will never threaten to burn your house down but keep this in mind....they will also never ask you to wire money. In fact, they don't ask for your credit card information either. A legitimate representative will transfer you to their calling system to make a payment.
"The scammers trick customers by instructing them to buy money cards at a local retailer and either use it to make a wire transfer to a bank account number provided by the caller or give the money card information to the scammer," the utility said in a news release.
Here are some tips from Austin Energy to help customers avoid being taken:
- Austin Energy – which manages all city of Austin utility billing – will never ask customers to make a wire transfer.
- Austin Energy representatives never ask customers over the telephone for credit card information or to purchase money cards and provide the number on the card.
- 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 a customer receives a phone call to make a wire transfer to pay a utility bill, hang up and dial 3-1-1 or (512) 974-2000 and report the incident immediately. Austin 3-1-1 ambassadors will report the incident to law enforcement.
A man is dead after being hit by several vehicles in the eastbound lane of Highway 71 Saturday night.
APD is responding to a 25 vehicle accident near the 5400 block of Ed Bluestein near Thurgood Ave.
A representative at the Fayette County Sheriff's office said that Fayette County is effectively shut down due to icy conditions.
The Austin City Council is set to vote Thursday on design changes for the Auditorium Shores Dog Park.
Bryce Petty threw touchdown passes on the first two drives of the second half for No. 9 Baylor and the Bears won their first Big 12 title and a Fiesta Bowl berth with a 30-10 victory over No. 23 Texas on Saturday.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.