Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Mt. Pleasant Municipal Utilities is warning its customers of a payment scam.
General Manager Jack Hedgecock said that the utility has received reports of customers receiving automated calls threatening shut-off if the bill is not paid immediately.
“In the middle of last week, we got a report of an automated service leaving a message that the customer is late on their bill and they need to give personal information within 45 minutes,” Hedgecock said. “If someone gets a call like that, a red flag should go up. They should call us directly and have a conversation.
“If you get that call, it’ll get you fired up. Take a deep breath and call the utility company directly.”
He said that the utility uses a number of processes to remind people to pay their bills, and they do not include using threatening automated calls.
“We have reminders and door hangers,” Hedgecock said. “There is a lot of contact.”
He added that all utilities have limitations on how to handle overdue bills and disconnections, especially during the winter.
“We will not do disconnections on a weekend, holiday or after business hours,” he said. “Also, we can’t disconnect a residential customer when it’s 20 degrees or under.”
Utilities are also prohibited from disconnecting any customers who receive energy assistance during the winter.
Hedgecock said that if a customer is behind on their utility bill, they should contact the utility.
“Communication is key,” he said. “If you’re behind, call us and have a conversation and make arrangements.
“It’s in our best interest to work with our customers to come up with a solution.”
He added that scams like this are frustrating for utility companies and their customers.
“It’s very disheartening when people get these calls over the holidays,” Hedgecock said. “It’s unfortunate that scams have become so tech savvy.
“We will certainly try to track down these culprits.”