Unknown individuals have been impersonating Austin Energy in an attempt to scam customers. The scammers were threatening to cut customers’ power unless a fictitious overdue bill was paid immediately. They typically requested reloadable prepaid debit cards or other non-traceable form of payments. As a result, Austin Energy warned: “Scammers are trying to take advantage of our customers in the aftermath of the winter storm,” and told customers to be weary of any phone calls received from their ’employees’. They added: “The scammers are telling customers they will be disconnected within 30-60 minutes if immediate payment is not made. We are not conducting disconnects, and we haven’t been doing so since March 2020.”
To help customers identify potential scams and protect themselves, Austin Energy advices their customers to:
- Hang up if they get a similar call, never call a number left in a voicemail, text or email.
- Always contact the utility company directly using a number known to be legitimate (e.g. the number on a bill or the company website)
- Never give banking information over the phone.
- Be aware that utility companies don’t demand payment information by email, text or phone.
- Scammers often request to pay by gift card, cash reload card, money transfer or cryptocurrency. These are always a scam.
The people in Texas are especially vulnerable following the multiple and spreading power outages that resulted from the winter storm.