New scam targets Xcel Energy customers in Denver area

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DENVER — Beware of a new scam targeting Xcel Energy customers in the Denver area.

Shari Redden teaches online nursing classes, so not using her computer is out of the question. Redden started to panic when she received a recorded message saying her power would be shut off by Xcel energy unless she called an 800 number and paid $300.

“He’s telling me at 3:30 in the afternoon my lights are going to be shut off,” Redden said.

She was confused because she knew her bill had already been paid. In fact, the real Xcel website showed her balance at zero.

Redden contacted the 800 number left on the message, heard convincing prompt messages, then was put on hold.

“They have the same background music that Xcel does!” Redden said.

Redden says the man encouraged her to go to a nearby grocery store and get a prepaid debit card to prevent a power disconnection.

After “telling the man off,” he finally left her alone.

The Problem Solvers asked Xcel about the scam and found the company has received more than 250 complaints from customers in the city of Denver and more than 100 from people in communities like Aurora and Arvada since last week.

Xcel says even when a caller sounds legitimate, consider the following safety warnings:

  • Customers should be very suspicious if a caller requires a single form of payment, such as requiring the use of a prepaid debit card. Xcel Energy offers many options for payment and will never ask or require a customer with a past-due account to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
  • Xcel Energy customers will initially be contacted by U.S. mail about past due bills, not over the phone. You will also be sent a disconnection notice in writing before your power is actually turned off.
  • Customers should never wire money, provide bank card numbers and social security numbers to an unverified source.

Xcel tells FOX31 that customers with any doubt about the authenticity of someone claiming to be from Xcel Energy and asking for payment should hang up immediately. They should then call Xcel Energy Customer Service at 1-800-895-4999 or its Business Solutions Center at 1-800-481-4700 to report the experience.

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