To aid with financial relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Water Revenue Bureau (WRB) suspended all collection and other enforcement measures for overdue account balances. The Department also stopped all penalties and late fees for water bills.
However, these temporary measures have expired, and we’ve resumed enforcement efforts, including referring delinquent residential accounts to collection agencies. Keep reading to find out what to expect and how to keep your account in good standing.
What to expect
We began transferring residential accounts with more than $250 in unpaid bills to collection agencies in early October. The City uses these three agencies to help collect water bill debts on its behalf:
Keep an eye on your mailbox as you may receive a collection letter from one of them if you owe more than $250 in past due water bills. They may also use phone calls, emails, and court actions to collect money owed to the City.
More importantly, the agencies will need to verify they’re talking to the correct person during a phone call. To do that, they may ask for the last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN), date of birth, property address, or phone number.
Be aware that once your debt has been transferred to a collection agency, you must work directly with the agency to pay your past-due bills.
Don’t wait to be transferred to a collection agency before acting on your debt. While it will not affect your credit score, being referred to a collection agency could increase the size of your debt and they may impose additional fees on your principal. Moreover, some payment agreement options will not be available once your account is with a collection agency. So why wait when you can pay now to avoid the extra burden?
You can easily pay your bill online at phila.gov/waterbill. Paying online is safe and the easiest way to settle City debts. You can also pay over the phone by calling (877) 309-3709, in person at the Municipal Services Building or our Northeast Philadelphia office, or by sending a check payable to “City of Philadelphia” to:
Water Revenue Bureau
P.O. Box 41496
Philadelphia, PA 19101-1496
Get into a payment plan
We understand that some customers cannot afford to pay their bills in full. If this applies to you, call us at (215) 685-6300 and ask about our water bill payment agreements.
Payment plans can start as low as $20 per month in addition to the current month’s bill. Residential customers may only need a 25 percent down payment to get into a standard payment plan. The remainder of your debt is split into monthly installments and must be paid off in 6 to 18 months, depending on the agreement terms.
Help is always available
The City also offers a range of water bill affordability programs to help qualifying customers pay off their debts. You can even apply for grants from the Utility Emergency Services Fund (UESF), which provides financial assistance to low-income Philadelphians to pay their utility bills. Visit UESF (uesfacts.org) to learn more and apply.