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?

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

A: No

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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.

Q: Can I Get Utilities with No Credit?

A: Yes

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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

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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.

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

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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

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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

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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.

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