MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) — A telephone scam where the victim is threatened with a shutoff of water service unless they share their credit card information is apparently targeting the City of Mountain Home Water Department's customers.
Water Department Director Alma Clark said her office had recently received two calls from customers that had been contacted by "Municipal Utility" and told that their water service would be turned off unless they immediately paid their bill over the phone with a debit or credit card.
The calls appear to be a scam because the Mountain Home Water Department does not phone customers with overdue reminders, Clark said. Additionally, the Water Department does not accept credit card payments over the phone.
"We never ever ask for a payment over the phone," Clark told the Baxter Bulletin. "Please do not give anyone payment over the phone for anything that you get a phone call for regarding disconnection. It is not the Water Department calling you."
Employees for both the Northeast Public Water Authority and the Lakeview Midway Public Water Authority said that while their customers are contacted by phone regarding overdue balances, their customers are not asked to surrender their credit card information. Callers would also identify themselves as an employee of the respective water authorities, they said.
The City of Mountain Home Water Department's billing procedures include sending a first notice and second notice by mail, then performing the disconnects on the 26th of that month.
"We'll start doing our disconnects Friday, so some people may think that it's the Water Department calling," Clark said. "The timing would be about right."
Both customers contacted were in good standing and were not in danger of having their water service disconnected, Clark said.
In the unlikely event the Water Department did have to contact customers by phone, the employee making the call would give their name, identify themselves as being with the Water Department, and ask that the customer come to the office at 752 North College Street if any sort of payment was required.
Customers can pay their water bills online with a debit or credit card, but customers paying in person at the Water Department office must use cash or a check.
"We don't even accept debit or credit cards at the office, so customers should be wary of someone asking them for that information," she said.
Any customer worried about their water or sewer services should contact the office at (870) 425-5115.
"We will be happy to look up your account and tell you if everything is ok," Clark said.
Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, http://www.baxterbulletin.com
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