News

How to Protect Yourself From Utility Scams

Stay alert and informed

By: | January 6, 2021

With the weather getting colder and many individuals and families staying indoors due to the coronavirus pandemic, scammers have found more opportunities to prey on utility customers. Xcel Energy has seen a recent uptick in phone scams and wants to help our customers protect themselves and their loved ones, especially older adults and non-native English speakers, two groups often targeted by scammers.

There are several forms of scams, including phone calls, emails, text messages, and in-person visits, that trick customers into sharing personal and financial information to avoid power shutoff. Here is a list of common scam tactics and how to detect them.

Common scam tactics

A scammer calls you or shows up at your home unannounced to inform you your account is past due and demands payment using a prepaid debit card, such as a Green Dot card, or they will disconnect your power.

Xcel Energy provides many options for payment; we NEVER REQUIRE the use of a prepaid debit card. Xcel Energy sends disconnection notices by U.S. mail before turning off the power.

A scammer usually calls 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. CT and residential customers from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. CT.

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. We will not call a customer to ask for a bank account or credit card information to provide a refund.

A scammer provides a fake account number, anticipating you will not know it 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.

A scammer may play a recording that sounds like an Xcel Energy phone system message.

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.

A scammer sends an email that appears to be from your energy company and asks you to click on a link to pay an overdue bill or claim a refund.

Xcel Energy emails regarding your account and bill will come from a legitimate Xcel Energy email address. Check the sender's email for odd characters and the message for typos.

A scammer may 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 to help you with your billing and payment questions at the numbers listed above.

Other important do's and don'ts

  • Don't share personal or financial information with a caller, email sender, or visitor you don't know or trust.
  • Don’t let anyone into your home unless you have a scheduled appointment or have reported an issue.
  • Don’t click on links in a utility email or text message unless you can prove it is from your utility company.
  • Do ask callers and visitors questions to confirm their identity. You can ask to see an employee identification number or badge or ask them to confirm the date and amount of your most recent bill payment.
  • Do notify your utility if you suspect a scam call, email or home visit.
  • Do notify family members, friends, and neighbors if you suspect or are aware of a scam in your area.

What to do if you suspect an Xcel Energy scam

If you are an Xcel Energy customer and believe you are the victim of a scam or an attempted scam, contact law enforcement. You can check your Xcel Energy account status using My Account or our mobile app, or contact Xcel Energy Customer Service at 800-895-4999 or CustomerService@xcelenergy.com.

Tags: scams, safety
Drew E.
Drew E.

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