Xcel Energy reports uptick in scams

May 22, 2020

Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to prey on customers, according to Xcel Energy, which has seen an increase in scams since the outbreak began.

The utility provider warns customers that it will never contact them by phone demanding payment, and that Xcel is entering homes only to restore service or respond to emergencies at this time.

Here are the types of scams being reported:

Phone scam

In most scenarios, the scammer tells the customer their account is past due, and service will be disconnected if a large payment isn’t made – usually within the hour. The scammer then instructs the customer to purchase a prepaid debit or credit card and demands the customer call back to supposedly make a payment. These scammers often sound professional and also may manipulate caller ID so numbers look like they’re coming from Xcel Energy. During the global COVID-19 crisis, Xcel Energy is not disconnecting residential customers for non-payment until further notice.

Door-to-door scam

In a door-to-door scam, scammers show up at a customer’s front door claiming they need to enter the home to read the meter. Xcel Energy wants to remind customers the company has stopped entering customers’ homes for non-critical work such as reading indoor meters. The company is entering homes only for emergency purposes. Customers also should always look for an Xcel Energy-branded vehicle and photo ID when a company employee visits their home.

How to spot a scam

Even when a caller sounds legitimate, here are some quick warning signs for customers:

  • Xcel Energy will never threaten to disconnect service immediately if a customer does not make a payment on the spot. The company also is not disconnecting residential customers until further notice.
  • Scammers may instruct customers to buy a prepaid card, which are widely available at retail stores and work like cash. If a customer gives the scammer that card number, the money is gone and untraceable.
  • Be wary of calls that come in at night and on weekends. Xcel Energy will contact residential customers only from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and business customers from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Business customers also should be aware that scammers may call during peak business hours with urgent threats that their service will be cut off during their busiest times of day.
  • Xcel Energy will not ask customers for personal bank account or credit card numbers to refund an overpayment of a bill. Overpayments usually are applied to future bills, or if they are refunded, that will be done only by mailing a check to the customer’s address on file.

How to protect yourself

  • If someone threatens you with immediate disconnection, hang up the phone, delete the email or shut the door. Customers with past-due accounts receive an advance disconnection notification by mail. Xcel Energy never sends a single notification an hour or less before disconnection.
  • Xcel Energy customers will never be instructed to purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection. Xcel Energy and other legitimate utility companies will not specify how customers make their payments and always offer a variety of options to do so.
  • If you suspect you’re being scammed, call Xcel Energy at the number on your monthly bill, go to “My Account” on XcelEnergy.com, or check the mobile app. Xcel Energy’s customer service number is 800-895-4999. Customers should not call a different number provided by scammers.
  • Consumers who believe they are victims of fraud or who feel threatened by a scammer should contact local police.
  • The Federal Trade Commission’s website has additional tips for consumers to protect themselves from fraud and options for reporting it.

Xcel Energy’s website has additional information to help people avoid phone, email, in-person and employment scams.


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Xcel Energy reports uptick in scams

By phone or at the door, scam artists are impersonating Xcel Energy trying to take advantage of customers during the pandemic.

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