Last week, some Dallas Water Utilities customers received calls and texts demanding that they make a payment or else lose service. This is a scam, according to the department.
“Dallas Water Utilities (DWU) advises customers that fraudsters are again making fraudulent phone calls and sending text messages in both English and Spanish from a phone number claiming to be from DWU,” the department said in a press release on Thursday.
The calls and texts are similar to scam messages many Dallas Water Utilities customers received in July. Both sets of communications come from a number caller ID labels “Dallas Water,” leading people to believe they’re legitimate. (The scammers make the calls and send the texts that appear to be from a number associated with the department’s customer service line.)
The message will usually tell people to make a payment over the phone or through a text message payment link to avoid disconnection.
But the department says it doesn’t call before service disconnections and that notices are sent through the mail. As a security measure, Dallas Water Utilities doesn’t even use real people for payments via phone. Instead, the department uses an automated voice response system.
The department is telling customers not to share their financial information or make a payment to someone calling or texting claiming to be with Dallas Water Utilities. The department advises scam victims to report incidents via email to [email protected] and contact their financial institution.
The renewed scam calls and texts coincides with Dallas Water Utilities continuing its residential disconnections for nonpayment this month.
The department told the mayor and City Council in two memos that these disconnections would continue on Sept. 6. They were suspended in March 2020 in response to economic hardship caused by the pandemic.
In recent months, Dallas Water Utilities has been reaching out to customers with past-due bills in hopes of connecting them with assistance to pay their balance. The department put notices about assistance and establishing a payment plan in customers’ August and September bills.
In April, July and August, the department also mailed customers postcards advising them to contact Dallas Water Utilities and set up a payment plan.
In the meantime, Dallas Water Utilities says it’s still working with customers who are behind on their bills to set up payment plans that fit their budgets. The department says it has also partnered with the county and state to streamline some of the assistance.