News

Be Aware: Utility Scams on the Rise

Going door to door, calling, or emailing, scammers are busy trying to deceive you.

By: | June 9, 2020

As we gradually find our way through the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and other civil unrest, some things, unfortunately, remain the same – scammers are looking to deceive you. More than ever, scammers are attempting to take advantage of these disruptive times, when we’re all a bit preoccupied.

Be on alert for these actions:

  • Someone who says they are from your energy company calls insists your bill is overdue and threatens to shut off your power if you don't pay.
  • A person claiming to work for the company shows up at your door, tells you there’s an issue with your utility meter, and charges you for their services.
  • An email that appears to be from your energy company states you overpaid your last bill and asks you to click on a link to claim your refund.

These are all common imposter scam tactics, and while they may seem like obvious deceptions, it’s easier to fall for them than you think – especially in the moment.

 

Scammers know you are more vulnerable now.

Imposter scams are the most common type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission, with more than 1.4 million submitted reported in 2018 – a 38% increase from 2017. And now those numbers are estimated to be growing as scammers take advantage of a critical time when confusion and uncertainty may often cloud our better judgment.

How to protect yourself and your family

Recognize the seven common tactics scammers use.

1. A scammer tells you your account is past due, and you must pay using a prepaid debit card, such as a Green Dot card.

Xcel Energy provides many options for payment; we NEVER REQUIRE the use of a prepaid debit card.

2.  A scammer threatens to turn off your power if the payment is not made immediately.

Xcel Energy sends disconnection notices by U.S. mail before turning off the power. We are currently under a no shut-off status because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so no shut-off notices are being used.

3. Scammers are calling on nights and weekends.

Xcel Energy contacts customers Monday through Friday only – not on weekends. Business customers are contacted from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (CST) and residential customers from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. (CST).

4. A scammer claims you have overpaid your energy bill, and you need to provide a personal bank account or credit card number to facilitate a refund.

Xcel Energy will apply overpayments to your billing account, allowing the credit balance to cover future energy charges. Refunds of overpayments are typically only made by mailing a check to the customer's address on file. We will not call a customer to ask for a bank account or credit card information to provide a refund.

5. A scammer provides a fake account number, anticipating that you will not know your own or have access to it.

Xcel Energy can provide additional information to confirm that a payment reminder call is legitimate. For example, you could ask us to provide you with the date you opened an account with the company.

6. Scammers may play you a recording that sounds like an Xcel Energy phone system message; then, you call the callback number they provide.

Xcel Energy’s standard customer service lines are 800.895.4999 (residential callers) and 800.481.4700 (business callers). You may call these numbers to verify the authenticity of a call you received.

7. Scammers manipulate your caller ID to display a fake number, which may be Xcel Energy’s number.

This is called spoofing. If Xcel Energy calls a customer, it will be from the phone numbers listed above. If you are suspicious about the call you are receiving, you may always hang up and call back. You can always count on a legitimate representative helping you with your billing and payment questions at these numbers.

Take these actions when you suspect a scam.

If you are an Xcel Energy customer and feel you are the victim of a scam or attempted fraud, please contact law enforcement to report it. You can also check your account status using My Account or our mobile app, or contact Xcel Energy Customer Service at 800.895.4999 or CustomerService@xcelenergy.com

Be aware – stay ahead of the scammers. #StopScams

Drew E.
Drew E.

As a communication consultant at Xcel Energy-Colorado, Drew helps create customer and community connections through storytelling.