Simple typo on Southwest Gas bill turns into an $18K mistake

Simple typo on Southwest Gas bill turns into an $18K mistake

Updated:
PHOENIX -

It's a typo anyone could make -- a valley woman paying her bills online accidentally types a zero instead of a decimal point.

Now that simple typo has turned into an $18,000 mistake.

Debra Tupper works as a hair stylist in the Anthem area.   Like most people, she watches her money closely.

So imagine her reaction when she mistakenly sent $18,000 to pay her Southwest Gas bill.

"I paid the bill online -- it was $18.69 and it was a keystroke error, so it went out at $18,069," she said.

That extra zero typed in has created a major headache for Debra.

"The first person I spoke to with Southwest Gas informed me that they would look into it and it would be credited to my account.  I don't know who would use $18,000 in gas in a lifetime -- it certainly wouldn't be me.  I live alone.  I'm single."

Weeks later, her bank account still sits empty as late fees file up.

"I have no money in my accounts.  I'm getting overdrafts.  I can't pay any of my bills.  I got a loan -- a personal loan from a girlfriend -- just to keep my accounts..have some living money," said Debra.

Debra takes full blame for the mistake and has a warning for others who pay their bills online.

"Be very careful. Watch exactly every keystroke and review it before you send it through," she said.  "Has just been extremely stressful.  Having all the bank charges, the late charges from the credit cards which I can't pay -- has just been horrible."

Statement from Southwest Gas:

"We sympathize with Ms. Tupper, the customer involved.  We have worked with Ms. Tupper and her bank to rectify her overpayment as swiftly as possible, while keeping all security and fraud protection practices in place. We are pleased that all funds are expected to be returned to the customer within the next few business days.  As always, Southwest Gas is committed to delivering exceptional safety, service and reliability to our customers and the communities we serve."

We got in touch with Debra to let her know her money should be on the way soon, but it's a good reminder to double check before you hit "send."

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