For the past several days, people have been showing up at this Austin Energy Customer Center asking why they got calls about being late paying their bill.
In several cases, Site Manager Euince Ransburg tells them they don't owe anything but they have been scammed.
"... Very heartbreaking. But to be honest with you there is nothing we can do at the point especially if they made the purchase," Ransburg said.
Residents are being told their power will be cut off if they don't immediately pay up using a money card or bank transfer.
"It's been around $300 to $400 basically," Ransburg said.
Caller ID indicates the person on the line is calling from an official city number, according to those who fall for the trick. It's called masking and caller ID spoofing where a call appears to come from a different phone number put in by the caller.
Detectives with APD are trying to expose the scammers and while they try to pull the plug on them. There are ways to tell what's real thing and what isn't.
"Austin Energy will never ask you to buy a money card will never ask you to make a wire transfer and will never ask for a credit card or money card information over the phone," Austin Energy Spokesperson Carlos Cordova said.
Austin Energy has two walk-in centers. This one located on Research Blvd. and another at the Rosewood-Zaragosa Center on the east side of town.
Utility payments can also be made at most Austin H.E.B. stores. Ace Cash Express, Money Box Fiesta Mart and Randalls.
"One of the ways the victims are falling for this as well is that now the callers are familiar with utility terms such as talking about metes and talking about if you want to speak to my supervisor that's common in a lot of call centers, so they gain the confidence of the victim in that way," Cordova said.
If someone calls suggesting another option--hang up.
Austin Energy does have an on-line credit card payment method, but in setting that up, customer service representatives will not ask for your card number.