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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:
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.
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:
How to protect yourself
Xcel Energy’s website has additional information to help people avoid phone, email, in-person and employment scams.
By phone or at the door, scam artists are impersonating Xcel Energy trying to take advantage of customers during the pandemic.