Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation (NEICAC) wants area residents to know they have rights with regard to overdue utility payments.

According to David Boss, director of community outreach and development for NEICAC, the law says if someone has not broken a payment plan in the last 12 months, the utility company is required to give them a minimum of 12 months to pay the past-due amount.

The law also says the utility must take into account the household’s ability to pay.

“People often agree to something they cannot afford because they are not aware of their lawful rights to a reasonable affordable payment plan,” said Boss.

Boss said if residents are trying to negotiate a payment plan and don’t feel they are being treated fairly, they can call the Iowa Utility Board’s customer service department at 877-565-4450.