Don’t Be a Victim of a Scammer: Knowledge is Power

Scammers constantly try to prey on trusting consumers. Across the country, utility companies and the FTC have received reports of scammers posing as utility employees.

Here are a few of the more frequent scams:

Email Demanding Payment and/or Personal Information

Recently, several Athens residents received an email that appeared to be from “City of Athens Utilities,” and included an Athens Utilities customer accounts email that appeared legitimate. The email sender attempted to get payment and personal information. Please be aware that we will never attempt to collect payment or personal information over email.

Phone Scams

In cases reported across the county, callers claim to be from a utility, telling the customer they’re in danger of having their power or other service cut off, sometimes within the hour, unless they pay immediately. These scammers often use spoofing technology to make it look like they are calling from the utility. Often, the caller directs the customer to buy a prepaid credit card and call back on a different phone number to pay the outstanding bill.

A Knock on the Door

Imposters have knocked on customers’ doors, claiming to be a representative from the utility company. Frequently, the scammer claims that payment is overdue and service will be cut off if it is not paid immediately. In other cases, the scammers have claimed that a meter is not working properly and must be immediately replaced, at the customer’s expense.

How to Spot a Utility Scam

Our employees will always wear a Hartselle Utilities uniform and carry identification.

If you are ever asked to pay your bill using a prepaid debit card or a wire transfer, that should be a red flag – the person is not representing Hartselle Utilities.

We will never call you and ask for payment over the phone; the only payments we accept over the phone are through our Convenience Pay service, and these calls must be initiated by you.

We do not collect payment or personal information over email.

We will not cut off your service after hours or on weekends.

There may be times during weather or other emergencies that a Hartselle Utilities employee may knock on your door, and this may happen on weekends or after hours. However, our employees will never demand payment from you.

How does Hartselle Utilities contact customers whose bill is overdue? If we have not received your payment by the due date listed on your bill, we will send you a reminder postcard – even if you normally receive your bill electronically.

If your payment is not received within 10 days, we will make a third attempt to contact you with an automated call letting you know that if your payment is not received within 24 hours, your service will be cut off. This automated call is made to the number we have on file; the number is printed in red on your bill. Please note that this is an automated call, never a live person demanding payment. These calls are made during regular business hours, so if you have questions about your bill you can immediately call our office and speak to a customer service representative.

Finally, if we still have not received your payment, we will send a Hartselle Utility employee to your home to cut off your service. The employee might knock on your door as a courtesy to let you know that your service is being turned off. You have the option of paying the employee, but he or she will never demand payment.

Protect Yourself

If you ever feel pressured for immediate action by a caller or a person claiming to be an HU employee, please call our Customer Service Department at (256) 773-3340.

Never give your personal or banking information to an unsolicited caller or person.

If you suspect a scam, please call us at (256) 773-3340 or email inquiries@hartselleutilities.org. Your reports help us fight these scams.