NORTH TEXAS (CBSNEwsTexas.com) - Multiple cities in North Texas are warning residents and businesses to look out for fraudulent calls and texts about the status of their water utility accounts.
Two hotels in The Colony recently got calls from people pretending to be with the city's water department, threatening to disconnect their services if they didn't send immediate payment.
"The hotels contacted us and were verifying this information because they knew their accounts were up to date, and in fact, these calls were scam calls to the hotels," said Molly Owczar, the director of customer services for The Colony.
Lewisville police say the scammers have been targeting some of their hotels too, posting on social media that "The scam calls instructs hotels to pay a large sum of money for a water bill. The City of Lewisville will NEVER attempt to obtain money in any form. If you receive one of these calls or ever doubt you are speaking to a real City of Lewisville employee, please call 972.219.3640."
The City of Dallas posted this warning on its utilities page:
"Please be advised that customers are again receiving scam calls and text messages indicating their water utility account is being disconnected. The caller/sender may appear on Caller ID as (214) 651-1441. These scam calls and text messages are not coming from the City of Dallas or Dallas Water Utilities. Customers should not give any information in response to these communications. Dallas Water Utilities does not call or text customers before service disconnections. Disconnection notices are only sent by postal mail. As a security measure and to protect the customer's personal financial data, DWU does not take payments over the phone with a live person. Payments processed over the phone are made through the Interactive Voice Response system."
The City of Irving also advised customers this month to beware of calls claiming to be from the City of Irving Water Utilities Department and requesting Zelle payments.
"They are preying on those people, hoping that they will fall for it so they don't have those services taken away," Owczar said.
In The Colony, the callers demanded money through the Cash app, something Owczar calls a major red flag.
"We will never demand payment via Cash App, cryptocurrency, gift card, wire transfer," said Owczar.
Owczar says someone from The Colony will call you if your account is two bills past due to find a way to help you avoid losing your water service. They may even take a credit card payment over the phone.
"So it seems like these scammers are aware of policies and procedures and were using that against us," said Owczar. "It's actually very frustrating because we're trying to help our customers and they're taking advantage of this."
If you ever feel unsure the call is legitimate, don't be afraid to ask questions or even hang up.
"Contact the provider directly through the information on their website or on the bill itself to verify the information," Owczar said.
If you think you may have fallen victim to something like this, contact your local police department to file a report.
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