Utility Bill FAQs

Depending on where you live, your utility bills could range from $100 to more than $500 per month. The average monthly utility costs in the US are just over $400, according to Move.org. Utility costs can be a significant burden on your budget. And if you don’t have a good credit rating, you might have to put down a sizable deposit or jump through other hoops during the setup process. Here are a few things to know about your utility bills if you’re just getting set up or are struggling to pay.

Can I Put My Electric Bill in Someone Else’s Name?
Can I Get Utilities with No Credit?
Can I Have Two Electric Bills in My Name?
What Can I Do if Someone Puts a Bill in My Name?
How Can I Prevent Disconnection if I Can’t Afford to Pay the Bill?
Are There Protections to Keep My Utilities On if I Lose My Income?

    Call now for a FREE consultation
    CALL 844-639-6956

    Q: Can I Put My Electric Bill in Someone Else’s Name?

    A: No

    Back to top

    In almost every case, putting your electric bill in another person’s name is illegal. The only time it may be legal to have a utility bill in another person’s name is if a roommate, spouse, or relative who lives at the same address takes responsibility for opening the account—and paying the bills.

    The person whose name is on the bill is solely responsible for ensuring payments are made on time. If payments are late or defaulted on, it can negatively affect that person’s credit and their ability to open accounts or receive credit in the future, particularly if the bill is sent to collections.

      Get everything you need to master your credit today.
      Get started for free

      Q: Can I Get Utilities with No Credit?

      A: Yes

      Back to top

      According to the Federal Trade Commission, poor credit or no credit history at all doesn’t necessarily preclude you from opening an account with an electricity provider in your own name. You may have to pay a deposit for your service, which the provider uses to cover costs in the event you don’t pay for services. Some providers require a letter of guarantee from a third party who agrees to pay your bill if you default. This person must be approved by the electricity company.

      Q: Can I Have Two Electric Bills in My Name?

      A: Yes

      Back to top

      Some Americans own multiple properties that are rentals or vacation homes. They require utility service at each of their owned properties and each bill is in the same name.

      Features of ExtraCredit

      It’s important to note that electric and other utility bills that are under the same name must be for separate addresses. Providers will not open two accounts for the same address.

      Q: What Can I Do if Someone Puts a Bill in My Name?

      A: Contact the utility provider or report it to the authorities

      Back to top

      If you authorize another person to get utility service in your name, you’re responsible for making sure that person is paying. If they haven’t paid and the bill is in arrears, it’s up to you to pay it off and close out the account. You can contact the utility provider to discuss how to pay off old utility bills if you’re not sure what the balance or account number is.

      If a person has used your name to get utilities without your consent, it’s considered identity theft and utility fraud. You can report it to the authorities and the utility provider.

      In some cases, the utility provider may simply cut off service and let you off the hook for the amount owed. You will likely have to provide evidence that you’ve filed a police report or are proceeding with a lawsuit against the person who defrauded you.

      Q: How Can I Prevent Disconnection if I Can’t Afford to Pay the Bill?

      A: Contact the utility provider

      Back to top

      Communicate with your utility provider immediately. Let them know your situation and ask about your options. If it’s just one abnormally high bill or you’ve had a temporary decrease to your income, many utility companies work with you by offering a payment plan or deferral. Each state has its own regulations when it comes to utility provider payment plans, so understand that your provider may be limited in what it can offer.

      Q: Are There Protections to Keep My Utilities On if I Lose My Income?

      A: Yes

      Back to top

      Individuals who are unable to work due to age, illness, or disability may be protected by state programs that prevent providers from turning off utilities. In some states, the law prevents these providers from shutting off power to people’s homes when they are on deferred payments. In other states, individuals who can’t afford their bills may be able to pay smaller amounts to keep their services on.

      Programs such as LIHEAP offer energy assistance to low-income individuals. This program uses state funding to help those in need pay electric bills when they’re not able to do so on their own.

      While you may not be able to put your electric bill in someone else’s name, there are other options available to those who are unable to afford their bills or who have issues obtaining service due to poor credit history. Ensure you have access to electricity service by contacting the providers in your area and discussing your situation.

      Use Your Utility Payments to Build Your Credit Profile

      If you’re in the process of working on our credit profile, add your utility bills to your credit report with Build It from ExtraCredit. Build It helps you add rent and utilities as tradelines to your credit reports, and on-time payments can help you positively impact your credit profile.

        Get everything you need to master your credit today.
        Get started for free

        You Might Also Like

        Rolled up $20 bills sit on a table.
        With two stimulus checks under our belts, planning is curren... Read More

        March 16, 2021

        Personal Finance

        A woman sits on a window seat with her young child, who is reaching up to touch her face.
        The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a financial toll on nearly all of... Read More

        March 16, 2021

        Personal Finance

        financial productivity
        The following is a guest post by Orion Talmay, of Orion’s M... Read More

        March 16, 2021

        Personal Finance

        Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them. Compensation is not a factor in the substantive evaluation of any product.

        Hello, Reader!

        Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

        Our People

        The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

        Our Reporting

        We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

        The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

        In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

        Our Business Model

        Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

        Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

        Your Stories

        Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

        Thanks for stopping by.

        - The Credit.com Editorial Team