Category Archives: Billing

Additional Pre-Covid Billing Operations to Resume in January 2023

With the new year, there are a few notable changes coming to Charlotte Water (CLTWater). CLTWater has slowly been returning to pre-Covid billing operations, and some of these processes have already been implemented. Beginning January 2023, customers can expect disconnection and reconnection fees ($17 each) to resume.  Also in January, late fees, which are 1.5% of past-due charges, will begin and will appear on February bills.

Charlotte Water continues to look for ways to help customers who need help with their water bills get connected to resources. At the beginning of the pandemic, CLTWater policies were temporarily changed or suspended.  As financial aid programs, CARES Act funding and City grants became available, CLTWater worked closely with community partners like Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS), Housing and Neighborhood Services, and local non-profits community groups such as DreamKey Partners, Crisis Assistance Ministries and Commonwealth Charlotte, to connect thousands of customers with financial aid assistance.

One such financial assistance program was the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). This federal program was designed specifically for customers who were in danger of having their water service disconnected due to outstanding balances. To better help residents, CLTWater and DSS met regularly and worked intensely to streamline the process of receiving federal funding and distributing the aid directly to customer accounts who qualified. CLTWater was the only utility in the state to auto-match customers with LIHWAP financial assistance.

By implementing this process, and because of the successful partnership with DSS, thousands of Charlotte-Mecklenburg area residents received financial assistance. In just the first round of funding, CLTWater and DSS allocated more than $1.3 million to CLTWater customers, approximately 19% of all LIHWAP funds distributed statewide. The number of outstanding or delinquent CLTWater accounts at risk of disconnection dropped by the thousands, and more federal funding is expected.

Today, CLTWater and DSS representatives continue to meet weekly to keep the process running smoothing, discussing everything from how people are learning about different aid programs, how many accounts are in need of aid, and the best communication strategies to keep the public informed. By working with DSS, CLTWater customers that are in need of water bill assistance can also learn about other utility assistance and housing assistance programs offered by DSS, such as Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

As CLTWater slowly moves back to normal operations, assistance is still available for customers in need of financial help during this time.  Visit CharlotteWater.org, or call 311, and get connected to a variety of resources. 

Utility Scam Awareness Day

Many electric, water, and natural gas customers throughout the country are being targeted by impostor utility scams each day. Scammers typically use phone, in-person, and online tactics to target customers. One of the most common types of utility scams involves customers receiving unsolicited telephone, electronic, or in-person communications from an individual claiming to be a utility company representative. The scammer warns that the customer’s electric, water, or natural gas service will be disconnected or shut off if the customer fails to make an immediate payment—typically using a reloadable prepaid debit card or other non-traceable form of payment. Scammers often use valid-looking phone numbers, graphics, uniforms, and other forms of fraudulent identification.

Common scam tactics include:
  • Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell a customer their utility bill is past due, and service will be disconnected—usually within an hour—if a payment is not made.
  • Request for immediate payment: Scammers might instruct a customer to purchase a prepaid card, cryptocurrency, or to send funds via a mobile app to make a bill payment.
  • Request for prepaid card or payment through certain mobile apps: Customers are instructed to pay with a prepaid debit card. The impostor asks for the prepaid card’s number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds. More recently, customers have also been instructed to send a payment through a mobile app. Charlotte Water currently does not accept payments through the Cash App, Venmo or Zelle apps. However, customers can make payments on Charlotte Water payment portal by visiting charlottewater.org.
  • Personal information: During the COVID-19 crisis, criminals are promising to mail refund checks for over-payments on their accounts if they can confirm their personal data, including birthdays and, in some cases, Social Security numbers.
Tips to Avoid Scams:
  • Protect your personal information: Charlotte Water will have your relevant personal and account information. Never provide or confirm personal information such as Social Security number or bank account information.
  • Take your time: If someone calls or appears saying you have to pay your bill immediately, tell them you would like to verify that they are a legitimate utility company. Call 311 or 704-336-7600 to verify the contact.
  • Always ask questions: Ask the person calling you or visiting you in person to provide you with your account number, your last payment amount, date of payment and his/her employee ID number. If he/she is a legitimate utility representative, this information will be readily accessible.
  • Don’t let them inside: Charlotte Water staff have no reason to enter your home. Meters are located outside.
  • Pay your utility only: Never make a utility bill payment to anyone calling you on the phone, coming to your door, texting you, or emailing you. Always call your utility company at the number provided on your bill. Charlotte Water (at the City of Charlotte) can be contacted by dialing 311 or 704-336-7600.

For more information visit utilitiesunited.org or charlottewater.org.

Charlotte Water Announces Customer Care Program in Response to Pandemic

Charlotte Water, along with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services, has created the Customer Care Program. The goal of the program is to work with customers to avoid any situation where a customer is disconnected for non-payment.

As the community’s supplier of water, now more than ever, Charlotte Water’s service to the community is critical to the health and well-being of residents. And, we realized that many customers are facing unexpected, unparalleled financial hardships.

As a first stage, on March 13, 2020, late fees on the water bills were no longer charged and customer shutoffs for non-payment were discontinued. Previously disconnected customers were reconnected immediately. When the Executive Order (EO 124/142) expired on July 29, 2020, Charlotte Water continued the practices started in March.

Charlotte Water is now moving into the next stage of customer assistance as the pandemic continues to impact the community by:

  • Continuing the temporary practice of not disconnecting customers for delinquent account balances and not imposing late charges, and
  • Actively working with customers to address and resolve their past due balances in the coming months through payment arrangements and financial assistance.

Customers with past due balances as of September 30 will automatically be placed on a 12-month, no interest payment arrangement beginning with their October 2020 statement. No action is needed by customers to begin the payment arrangement.

Charlotte Water has also enhanced partnerships with local non-profits such as Crisis Assistance Ministries to provide financial assistance programs.

Through the Customer Care Program, Charlotte Water has also established the Customer Care Team, a group of trained customer service professionals dedicated to work one-on-one with customers, connecting them with community assistance agencies and working with customers to address and resolve past due balances.

Legally, Charlotte Water cannot forgive charges for services received by customers during the pandemic despite the current economic hardships the community faces. The Customer Care Program matches customers struggling to make ends meet with community resources that can help while making sure that no one is without the water people need to stay healthy.

For more information, customers can visit charlottewater.org or contact 311 (704-336-7600).