Although utilities rarely show up on a credit report, they are considered a credit account because you receive service in advance of payment. Having poor credit or a bad utility payment history may result in a utility provider denying you service. You can still hook up utilities with poor credit, but you may need outside help. At the very least, the utility company must explain its rejection.
Utilities often ask that applicants put down a deposit, usually between $25 and $100, if an applicant has poor or no credit history. You may be able to avoid this deposit if you can find someone willing to guarantee payment on the account, suggests the Federal Trade Commission. If the utility company rejects your application, it must send a letter giving the specific reason. The utility company cannot deny service because of race, gender, religion, national creed or origin.
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Proving Ability to Pay
Sometimes a utility company may reject you based on a former spouse's inability to pay. In this situation, you can make your case to the utility company that your spouse was to blame for the bad credit and that you are willing and/or able to pay. This can include proof that you never saw the utility bills, that you paid them when you saw they were overdue or that you were separated at the time of the delinquent bills.
Pay As You Go
Some utilities allow you to prepay for service, such as cellphones. Electric companies, however, do not usually offer this service. Some apartment complexes include all utilities, such as gas, electricity and water, with the rent. Alternatively, some apartments pay for a few utilities except for electricity.
If a utility company rejects you due to poor credit, review your credit report for errors. You might have an account that belongs to someone else on your report. Regardless of your history, you should always aim to improve your credit rating. Pay your bills on time and, if you have to use credit cards, plan to pay the balance at the end of the month.