New utility customers may face hefty security deposits

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MESA, Ariz. - Molly Anderson is moving so she can be closer to work. Her drive time to work now is 30 minutes, but when she moves into this Mesa apartment complex, it will only be a 10 minute commute which is something she looks forward to.

 "I am, it would make a huge difference time-wise and with gas savings," Molly said.

The apartment complex where Molly will be moving is served by the The City of Mesa Electric, so she called the city to establish service.

However, when she was on the phone ordering service, the utility representative told her this:

"Before I went any further, she said, it will be a $265 deposit."

Just to establish power with City of Mesa, Molly and other customers now have to pony-up $265.00. In the past, Molly and other consumers with great credit could avoid the deposit, but good credit, Molly says, doesn't mean much these days.

"I asked her what do people do who have no money to pay the deposit?  She said I tell them to borrow a credit card from friends or family," Molly tells 3 On Your Side.

So what's going on with the big demand for a security deposit. What ever happened to good credit?

Well, the City of Mesa told 3 On Your Side they recently changed their policy for new customers. The main reason, they say, is running credit checks has become too costly for the city. Not only that, but more and more customers with seemingly good credit are abandoning their homes and utility bills. So requiring a $265 deposit will help recoup their costs.

However, for consumers like Molly, the $265 deposit hurts financially.

"So maybe $265 is not a lot to them, but to an hourly worker like me, $265 is a big hit," she said.

3 On Your Side got a hold of APS and SRP which both told us that they will continue to accept good credit as a way for folks to avoid paying costly security deposits.

However, 3 On Your Side has discovered that's not necessarily the case when you deal with municipalities throughout Arizona. If you are required to start a new water account, electric account or anything that is run by the city, then many municipalities are now requiring pricey security deposits. Unfortunately, it's the sign of our times.