An immigrant from Mexico lives with his small family in LaGrange, Georgia. He’s lived there for ten years. He is a property owner. He doesn’t have a Social Security number because he doesn’t have a green card.
Even though he has a Mexican passport and an individual taxpayer identification number from the Internal Revenue Service, the homeowner is unable to obtain utility services in his name without a Social Security number. (His lawyer does not want to reveal his immigration status to protect him.) Anyone opening an account with the city, which is the sole provider of utilities, must have two things: a Social Security number and a government-issued photo ID.
As a result, the immigrant enlists the help of a buddy, who opens an account in his own name for him. Both guys risk being charged with fraud if they do so.
Hundreds of cities and counties across the country require anyone who wants to open a public utility account (lights, gas, water, phone) to provide a Social Security number, government-issued ID, or other form of proof that they are in the country legally to provide a Social Security number, government-issued ID, or other form of proof.
Even if they are in the nation lawfully, some immigrants find this nearly impossible, leaving them with little options, according to immigration rights organizations. They can request that the landlord open a utility account in their name, but this will significantly limit their housing alternatives. They can ask a friend or relative with a Social Security number to open the account for them, much like the homeowner in LaGrange, and risk being prosecuted. They can even relocate to another city.
The Georgia NAACP, the National Immigration Law Center, Project South, and other advocacy groups filed a class action lawsuit against LaGrange in May, alleging that the city’s policies make it “difficult or impossible for some of the City’s most economically disadvantaged residents to live in LaGrange, disproportionately harming Latinos and African-Americans” by restricting access to utilities. Unpaid court fines are also attached to residents’ utility accounts, a practice that is part of the class action lawsuit. (A plaintiff in the case is “John Doe#3,” an immigrant who can’t acquire utilities in his name.)
The city claimed in its request to dismiss the complaint that its policies were not intended to be discriminatory, and that the mayor and city council enacted “logical and reasonable criteria” to “defend the public coffers.”
In Augusta, Georgia, anyone opening a water account must present photo identification as well as proof of Social Security number. The city of Dothan in Alabama requires a state ID to open a utility account, and to obtain one, a person must show that he or she is lawfully in the nation and possesses a Social Security number.
In order to receive electricity, gas, water, or waste services in Florence, Alabama, you must have a valid driver’s license or state ID as well as a Social Security number. In Dunlap, Tennessee, a small town in the Sequatchie Valley, a Social Security number is also required to obtain water, gas, or electricity.
Water, electric, and gas providers in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as public utilities in Temple, Texas, a former railroad town about an hour outside of Austin, all demand a Social Security number. The city of Gilbert, Arizona, also demands a Social Security number.
These regulations, according to housing and immigration lawyers, discriminate against immigrants and violate the federal Fair Housing Act as well as the Privacy Act of 1974, robbing immigrants of their human rights. According to court documents, local officials claim they are only attempting to avoid fraud.
“This has significant ramifications,” said Atteeyah Hollie, a staff attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that offers legal assistance to poor persons convicted of crimes and is one of the plaintiffs in the LaGrange lawsuit. “They’re making it impossible for them to live there because they’re denying them basic services.” ‘You can’t live here,’ this has the effect of telling certain immigrants.
According to Andrew Arthur, a resident fellow in law and policy at the Center for Immigration Studies, a research and advocacy group advocating limiting immigration, the LaGrange policies do not discriminate against immigrants.
“The policies appear to be neutral and lawful because the municipality is interested in receiving payment for the services it offers,” Arthur explained.
Mayor Jim Thornton of LaGrange declined to comment, citing the current legal battle. According to Jeff Todd, the city’s attorney, local officials believe the Social Security requirement is a critical tool for preventing fraud and has nothing to do with a resident’s immigration status.
“The plaintiffs have every right to be angry by the policy decisions. “They’re attempting a creative stretch under the Fair Housing Act in order to effect a policy shift,” Todd explained. We are looking forward to presenting to the court that the policies are fair.
Is it common for utilities to ask for your Social Security number?
You’ll need to apply for utilities if you’re moving into a new home and need to set up and pay for them. Companies typically look at how you’ve paid your bills in the past when you apply, including how you’ve paid utility bills where you’ve previously resided.
When applying for utilities, keep the following in mind:
- You’re filling out a credit application. At the end of each month, utility companies send you a bill based on how much gas, water, or electricity you use. That means they’re giving you a credit for their services till you pay.
- Your credit history will be scrutinized by employers. Utility providers, like other creditors, will want information such as your Social Security number in order to examine your credit history. You may find it easier to obtain services if you have an excellent credit history. It may be more difficult if you have a bad credit history.
- Your power bill payment history can affect your credit score. It can enhance your credit if you pay your bills in whole and on time. It could harm your credit if you don’t. Failure to pay on time can result in collections and charge-offs, both of which can harm your credit. Not paying on time can also impair your ability to obtain other types of credit. Understand Your Credit for additional information.
Is a Social Security number required by Duke Energy?
To add an Authorized Person, the Customer of Record must have their Social Security number or other Personally Identifying Information on file. Each time the Authorized Person contacts Duke Energy, they will be prompted to authenticate the Customer of Record’s Social Security number or other Personally Identifying Information.
What is the purpose of PG&E requesting my Social Security number?
Your Social Security Number or other form of identification is solely used to sign up for PG&E service. This procedure has no effect on your credit score. With PG&E, your information is safe! We understand how critical it is to safeguard our clients’ privacy.
Is a bank statement the same thing as an energy bill?
A bank statement is not the same as a utility bill. A bank statement is not a utility bill; it is simply a clear and succinct breakdown of the contents of your bank account, as well as a handy way for you to examine what your bank is currently doing in terms of interest rates and other matters.
What is the definition of a proof utility bill?
One of the following documents can be used as proof of address:
- Bills for water, power, gas, telephone, and Internet
- Credit card statement or bill
- Letter of recommendation from a bank
- Statement of mortgage or contract
- A letter from a government agency (e.g. a courthouse)
- Insurance for your car or your home
- Form for requesting a change of address that has been authorized
- Employee letter of employment
- An educational institution’s official letter
- a bill from the municipality or a tax notice from the government
- Rental agreement for your home
To confirm proof of address, each bank will have its own set of documents and standards.
Before applying for a bank account, double-check with your local branch to ensure you have the proper documentation.
When a bank states they accept utility bills as evidence of address, they may have specific requirements for which kind of utility bills are acceptable.
How can I see if I have any bills in my name?
Look over your credit reports. Obtaining your credit reports from the three major credit agencies, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, should be your first step in identifying what obligations you owe. Creditors typically report debt accounts to one or more credit bureaus, which then include the information in their credit reports.
Is your credit checked by Duke Energy?
Pay-As-You-Go has been discontinued at the request of the customer: Customers can choose to stop participating in Pay-As-You-Go and keep their energy service. As a condition of continued electric service, Duke Energy Carolinas may require a credit check, payment of a security deposit, if applicable, and any outstanding amounts.
Is it possible for me to pay my Duke Energy bill at Walmart?
Is it possible to pay my utility bills at Walmart? Customers can pay their gas, electric, and other utility bills in-store or online at Walmart.
What is the procedure for deleting my Duke Energy account?
Follow these simple steps to discontinue your Duke Energy service subscription:
- Customer assistance can be reached at 800-777-9898.
- Inquire about speaking with a representative.
- Give them your account number and client information.
- Request that your regular payments be cancelled.
- A confirmation letter or email will be sent to you.